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Lothrop's Historical Library, 


AMEKICAN PEOPLE. By Arthur Oilman, M. A. 

INDIA. By Fannie Roper Feudge. 

EGYPT. By Mrs. Clara Erskine Clement. 

CHINA. By Robert K. Douglas. 

SPAIN. By Prof. James Herbert Harrison. 

SWITZERLAND. By Miss Harriet D. S. MacKenzie. 
JAPAN, and its Leading Men. By Charles Lanman. 

ALASKA : The Sitkan Archipelago. 

By Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore. 

Other volumes in preparation. 

Each volume i2mo, Illustrated, cloth, 5^1.50. 

D. LOTHROP & CO., Publishers, 

Franklin and Hawley Streets, Boston. 


'■ ^OF^y. 


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.f^- Map OF Alaska ."^^ 




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" Berlin, Sept, 5. — We have seen of Germany enough to show that its climate 
is neither so genial, nor its soil so fertile, nor its resources of forests and mines so 
rich as those of Southern Alaska.^' — IVilltam H. Seward — Travels Around the 
World, Part VI. chap. v. page 708. 


32 Franklin Street 

Copyright, by 



Electrotyped by 
C. J. Peters and Son, Boston. 


These chapters are mainly a republication of the 
series of letters appearing in the columns of the 
5/. Louis Globe-Democrat dwrmg the summer of 1883, 
and in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the New 
York Times during the summer of 1884. To readers 
of those journals, and to many exchange editors, who 
gave further circulation to the letters, they may carry 
familiar echoes. The only excuse for offering them 
in this permanent form is the wish that the compar- 
atively unknown territory, with its matchless scenery 
and many attractions, may be better known, and a 
hope that those who visit it may find in this book 
information that will add to their interest and enjoy- 
ment of the trip. 

In rearranging the original letters many errors have 
been corrected and new material incorporated. Dur- 
ing brief summer visits it was impossible to make 
any serious study, solve the mysteries of the native 
people, or give other than fleeting sketches of their 
out-door life and daily customs. Elaborate resumes 
of the writings of Baron Wrangell and Bishop Venia- 
minoff have been given by Professor Dall in his work 
on " The Resources of Alaska," and by Ivan Petroff 
in the Census Report of 1880 (Vol. IX.), and have 


since been so often and so generally quoted as 
hardly to demand another introduction to those 
interested in ethnology. Such mention as I have 
made of the traditions and customs of the Thlinkets 
is condensed from many deck and table talks, and 
from conversations with teachers, traders, miners, and 
government officers in Alaska. Wherever possible, 
credit has been given to the original sources of 
information, and the " Pacific Coast Pilot " of 1883 
and other government publications have been freely 
consulted. The nomenclature and spelling of the 
" Coast Pilot " have been followed, although to its 
exactness and phonetic severity much picturesqueness 
and euphony have been sacrificed. 

The map accompanying the book is a reduced 
section of the last general chart of Alaska published 
by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and 
is reproduced here by the permission of the compiler, 
Prof. William H. Dall. 

Of the illustrations, the cut of the Indian grave at 
Fort Wrangell was one accompanying an article 
published in Harper s Weekly, August 30, 1884, and 
other pictures have been presented to readers of the 
Wide Awake magazine of March, 1885. For views 
of the Davidson glacier, the North River, and the top 
of the Muir glacier, and the interior of the Greek 
Church at Sitka, from which cuts were made, I am 
indebted to a daring and successful amateur photo- 
grapher of San Francisco, to whom especial credit is 

To the officers of the ship and agents of the 
company I have to express appreciation of the favors 
and courtesies extended by them to my friends 


and to myself. Each summer I bought my long 
purple ticket, reading from Portland to Sitka and 
return, with pleasurable anticipations ; and all of them 
— and more — being realized, I yielded up the last 
coupons with regret. 

For information given and assistance rendered in 
the course of this work I am under obligations to 
many people. I would particularly make my ac- 
knowledgments in this place to Prof. William H. 
Dall, Capt. James C. Carroll, Hon. Frederic W. 
Seward, Prof. John Muir, Prof. George Davidson, 
Capt. R. W. Meade, U.S.N., Capt. C. L. Hooper, 
U.S.R.M., and Hon. J. G. Swan. 

E. R. s. 

Washington, D. C, March 15, 1885. 



I. The Start — Port Townsend — Victoria — Na- 


II. The British Columbia Coast and Tongass . . i6 

III. Cape Fox and Naha Bay 26 

IV. Kasa-an Bay 31 

V. Fort Wrangell and the Stikine 46 

VI. Wrangell Narrows and Taku Glaciers ... 72 
VII. Juneau, Silver Bow Basin, and Douglass Is- 
land Mines 81 

VIII. The Chilkat Country 100 

IX. Bartlett Bay and the Hooniahs 123 

X. MuiR Glacier and Idaho Inlet 131 

XI. Sitka— The Castle and the Greek Church . . 153 

Xll. Sitka— The Indian Rancherie 174 

XIII. Sitka — Suburbs and Climate 184 

XIV. Sitka — An Historical Sketch 198 

X.V. Sitka — History Succeeding the Transfer . . 214 

XVI. Education in Alaska 229 

XVII. Peril Straits and Kootznahoo 236 

XVIII. KiLLisNoo and the Land of Kakes 246 

XIX. The Prince of Wales Island 258 

XX. HowKAN, OR Kaigahnee 269 

XXI. The Metlakatlah Mission ; 280 

XXII. Homeward Bound 289 

XXIII. Sealskins 300 

XXIV. The Treaty and Congressional Papers .... 315 




Map of Alaska Frontispiece 

Three Carved Spoons and Shaman's Rattle 38 

Totem Poles at Fort Wrangell 53 

Grave at Fort Wrangell 55 

Silver Bracelets and Labrettes 61 

A Thlinket Basket 90 

The Davidson Glacier 103 

Chilkat Blanket 106 

Thlinket Bird-Pipe (Side and bottom) 127 

Diagram of the Muir Glacier 133 

River on North Side of the Muir Glacier 137 

Glacier Bay — Front of the Muir Glacier 141 

Section of the Muir Glacier (Top) 144 

Section of the Muir Glacier (Front) 147 

Sitka 155 

The Greek Church at Sitka 162 

Interior of the Greek Church at Sitka 165 

Easter Decorations in the Greek Church at Sitka . 167 

Basket Weavers at Killisnoo . 251 

Indian Pipe 268 

Totem Poles at Kaigahnee or Howkan 273 

The Chief's Residence at Kaigahnee, showing Totem 

Poles 274 

Halibut Hook 276 






ALTHOUGH Alaska is nine times as large as 
the group of New England States, twice the 
size of Texas, and three times that of California, a 
false impression prevails that it is all one barren, 
inhospitable region, wrapped in snow and ice the 
year round. The fact is overlooked that a territory- 
stretching more than a thousand miles from north to 
south, and washed by the warm currents of the Pacific 
Ocean, may have a great range and diversity of cli- 
mate within its borders. The jokes and exaggera- 
tions that passed current at the time of the Alaska 
purchase, in 1867, have fastened themselves upon the 
public mind, and by constant repetition been accepted 
as facts. For this reason the uninitiated view the 
country as a vast ice reservation, and appear to be- 
lieve that even the summer tourist must undergo the 
perils of the Franklin Search and the Greeley Relief 
Expeditions to reach any part of Alaska. The official 
records can hardly convince them that the winters at 



Sitka are milder than at New York, and the summers 
delightfully cool and temperate. 

In the eastern States less has been heard of the 
Yukon than of the country of the Congo, and the 
wonders of the Stikine, Taku, and Chilkat rivers are 
unknown to those who have travelled far to view the 
less impressive scenery of the Scandinavian coast. 
Americans climb the well-worn route to Alpine sum- 
mits every year, while the highest mountain in North 
America is unsurveyed, and only approximate esti- 
mates have been made of its heights. The whole 
580,107 square miles of the territory are almost as 
good as unexplored, and among the islands of the 
archipelago over 7,000 miles of coast are untouched 
and primeval forests. 

The Pribyloff or Seal Islands have usurped all 
interest in Alaska, and these two little fog-bound 
islands in Behring Sea, that are too small to be 
marked on an ordinary map, have had more attention 
drawn to them than any other part of the territory. 
The rental of the islands of St. Paul and St. George, 
and the taxes on the annual one hundred thousand 
sealskins, pays into the treasury each year more than 
four per cent interest on the ^7,200,000 originally 
paid to Russia for its possessions in North America. 
This fact is unique in the history of our purchased 
territories, and justifies Secretary Seward's efforts in 
acquiring it. 

The neglect of Congress to provide any form of 
civil government or protection for the inhabitants 
checked all progress and enterprise, and kept the 
country in the background for seventeen years. With 
the development of the Pacific northwest, settlements. 


mining-camps, and fisheries have been slowly growing, 
and increasing in numbers in the southeastern part of 
Alaska, adjoining British Columbia. The prospec- 
tors and the hardy pioneers, who seek the setting sun 
and follow the frontiers westward, were attracted 
there by the gold discoveries in 1880, and the impetus 
then given was not allowed to subside. 

Pleasure-travellers have followed the prospectors' 
lead, as it became known that some of the grandest 
scenery of the continent is to be found along the 
Alaska coast, in the region of the Alexander or Sitkan 
Archipelago, and the monthly mail steamer is crowded 
with tourists during the summer season. It is one of 
the easiest and most delightful trips to go up the 
coast by the inside passage and cruise through the 
archipelago ; and in voyaging past the unbroken wil- 
derness of the island shores, the tourist feels quite 
like an explorer penetrating unknown lands. The 
mountain range that walls the Pacific coast from the 
Antarctic to the Arctic gives a bold and broken front 
to the mainland, and everyone of the eleven hundred 
islands of the archipelago is but a submerged spur or 
peak of the great range. Many of the islands are 
larger than Massachusetts or New Jersey, but none 
of them have been wholly explored, nor is the survey 
of their shores completed. The Yosemite walls and 
cascades are repeated in mile after mile of deep salt- 
water channels, and from the deck of an ocean 
steamer one views scenes not paralleled after long 
rides and climbs in the heart of the Sierras. The 
gorges and canons of Colorado are surpassed ; moun- 
tains that tower above Pike's Peak rise in steep in- 
cline from the still level of the sea ; and the shores 


are clothed with forests and undergrowth dense and 
impassable as the tangle of a Florida swamp. On 
these summer trips the ship runs into the famous 
inlets on the mainland shore and anchors before vast 
glaciers that push their icy fronts down into the sea. 
The still waters of the inside passage give smooth 
sailing nearly all of the way ; and, living on an ocean 
steamer for three and four weeks, one only feels the 
heaving of the Pacific swells while crossing the short 
stretches of Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon En- 

The Alaska steamer, however, is a perfect will o' the 
wisp for a landsman to pursue, starting sometimes 
from Portland and sometimes from San Francisco, 
adapting its schedule to emergencies and going as 
the exigencies of the cargo demand. It clears from 
Puget Sound ports generally during the first days of 
each month, but in midwinter it arranges its depar- 
ture so as to have the light of the full moon in the 
northern ports, where the sun sets at three and four 
o'clock on December afternoons. 

When the steamer leaves Portland for Alaska, it 
goes down the Columbia River, up the coast of Wash- 
ington Territory, and, reaching Victoria and Port 
Townsend three days later, takes on the mails, and 
the freight shipped from San Francisco, and then 
clears for the north. The traveller who dreads the 
Columbia River bar and the open ocean can go across 
overland to Puget Sound, and thence by the Sound 
steamers to whichever port the Alaska steamer may 
please to anchor in. 

The first time that I essayed the Alaska trip, 
the steamship /{/a/io with its shining black hull, its 


trim spars, and row of white cabins on deck, slipped 
down the Columbia River *one Friday night, and on 
Monday morning we left Portland to overtake it. It 
was a time of forest fires, and a cloud of ignorance 
brooded over Puget Sound, only equalled in density 
by the clouds of smoke that rolled from the burning 
forests on shore, and there was an appalling scarcity 
of shipping news. The telegraph lines were down 
between the most important points, and the Fourth 
of July fever was burning so fiercely in patriotic veins 
that no man had a clear enough brain to tell us where 
the ship Idaho was, had gone to, or was going to. 
For two restless and uncertain days we see-sawed 
from British to American soil, going back and forth 
from Victoria to Port Townsend as we were in turn as- 
sured that the ship lay at anchor at one place, would 
not go to the other, and that we ran the risk of losing 
the whole trip if we did not immediately embark for 
the opposite shore. The dock hands came to know 
us, the pilots touched their hats to us, the agents 
fled from their ticket-offices at sight of us, and I think 
even the custom-house officers must have watched 
suspiciously, when the same two women and one 
small boy paced impatiently up and down the various 
wharves at that end of Puget Sound. We saw the 
Union Jack float and heard the American eagle 
scream on the Fourth of July, and after a night of 
fire-crackers, bombs, and inebriate chorus-singing, 
the Idaho came slipping into the harbor of Port 
Townsend as innocently as a messenger of peace, 
and fired a shot from a wicked little cannon, that 
started the very foundations of the town with its 


Port Townsend, at the entrance of Puget Sound, is 
the last port of entry and custom-house in the United 
States, and the real point of departure for the Alaska 
steamers. It was named by Vancouver in 1792 for 
his friend, *' the most noble Marquis of Townsend,'* 
and scorning the rivalry of the new towns at the 
head of Puget Sound, believes itself destined to be 
the final railway terminus and the future great city of 
this extreme northwest. The busy and thriving little 
town lies at the foot of a steep bluff, and an outlying 
suburb of residences stretches along the grassy 
heights above. A steep stairway, and several zig-zag 
walks and roads connect the business part of Port 
Townsend with the upper town, and it argues strong 
lungs and a goat-like capacity for climbing on the 
part of the residents, who go up and down the stair- 
way several times a day. A marine hospital flies the 
national flag from a point on the bluff, and four miles 
west on the curve of the bay lies Fort Townsend, 
where a handful of United States troops keep up the 
traditions of an army and a military post. Near the 
fort is the small settlement of Irondale, where the 
crude bog ore of the spot is successfully melted with 
Texada iron ore, brought from a small island in the 
Gulf of Georgia. The sand spit on which Port 
Townsend society holds its summer clam-bakes, and 
the home of the " Duke of York," the venerable 
chief of the Clallam tribe, are points of interest 
about the shores. 

Across the Straits of Fuca there is the pretty 
English town of Victoria, that has as solid mansions, 
as well-built roads, and as many country homes 
around it, as any little town on the home island. It 


has an intricate land-locked harbor, where the tides 
rush in and out in a way that defies reason, and none 
have ever yet been able to solve the puzzle and 
make out a tide-table for that harbor. All Victoria 
breathes the atmosphere of a past and greater gran- 
deur, and the citizens feelingly revert to the time 
when British Columbia was a separate colony by 
itself, and Victoria the seat of the miniature court 
of the Governor-General and commander-in-chief of 
its forces. There is no real joy in the celebration 
of " Dominion Day," which reminds them of how 
British Columbia and the two provinces of Canada 
were made one under the specious promise of a con- 
necting railway. Recent visits of Lord Dufferin and 
the Marquis of Lome stilled some of the disaffec- 
tion, and threats of annexation to the United States 
are less frequent now. 

* Victoria has "the perfect climate," according to the 
Princess Louise and other sojourners, and there is a 
peace and rest in the atmosphere that charms the 
briefest visitor. Every one takes life easily, and 
things move in a slow and accustomed groove, as if 
sanctioned by the custom of centuries on the same 
spot. Business men hardly get down town before ten 
o'clock in the morning, and by four in the afternoon 
they are striding and riding off to their homes, as if 
the fever and activity of American trade and compe- 
tition were far away and unheard of. The clerk at 
the post-office window turns a look of surprise upon 
the stranger, and bids him go across the street, or 
down a block, and buy his postage-stamps at a sta- 
tioner's shop, to be sure. 

The second summer that my compass was set for 


the nor'-norwest, our party of three spent a week at 
Victoria before the steamer came in from San Fran- 
cisco, and the charm of the place grew upon us every 
day. The drives about the town, along the island 
shores, and through the woods, are beautiful, and the 
heavy, London-built carriages roll over hard and per- 
fect English highways. Ferns, growing ten and 
twelve feet high by the roadside, amazed us beyond 
expression, until a loyal and veracious citizen of 
Oregon assured us that ferns eighteen feet high could 
be found anywhere in the woods back of Astoria; and 
that he had often been lost in fern prairies among the 
Cascade mountains, where the fronds arched far above 
his head when he was mounted on a horse. Wild 
rose-bushes are matted together by the acre in the 
clearings about the town, and in June they weight the 
air with their perfume, as they did a century ago, 
when Marchand, the old French voyager, compared 
the region to the rose-covered slopes of Bulgaria. 
The honeysuckle attains the greatest perfection in 
this climate, and covers and smothers the cottages 
and trellises with thickly-set blossoms. Even the 
currant-bushes grow to unusual height, and in many 
gardens they are trained on arbors and hang their 
red, ripe clusters high overhead. 

For a few days we watched anxiously every trail of 
smoke in the Straits of Fuca, and at last welcomed 
the ship, one sunny morning, when the whole Olympic 
range stood like a sapphire wall across the Straits, 
and the Angels* Gate gave a clear view of more 
azure slopes and snow-tipped summits through that 
gap in the mountain front. Instead of the trim 
propeller Idaho^ the old side-wheeler, the Ancon^ was 


put on the Alaska route for the summer months, 
and the fact of its having taken five days for the trip 
up from San Francisco did not prepossess us with 
any false notions of its speed. The same captain 
and officers from the Idaho were on board, and after 
making the tour of Puget Sound again, we were quite 
resigned to the change of ships by the time we 
finally left Victoria. 

At Victoria the steward buys his last supplies 
for the coming weeks of great appetites ; for with 
smooth water and the tonic of sea and mountain 
air both, the passengers make great inroads on the 
ship's stores. The captain often affects dismay at 
the way the provisions disappear, and threatens to 
take an account of stores at Sitka and bring the ship 
down by the outside passage in order to save some 
profit for the company. During the last hours at 
the Victoria wharf, several wagon-loads of meat had 
been put in the ice-boxes of the Ancon, when some 
live beef came thundering down the wharf, driven 
by hallooing horsemen. Each month the ship takes 
up these live cattle and sheep, and leaving them to 
fatten on the luxurious grasses of Sitka, insures a 
fresh supply of fresh beef for the return voyage. It 
was within half an hour of sailing-time when the 
herders drove the sleek fellows down to the wharf, 
and for an hour there was a scene that surpassed any- 
thing under a circus tent or within a Spanish arena. 
The sailors and stevedores had a proper respect for 
the bellowing beasts, and kept their distance, as they 
barricaded them into a corner of the wharf. The 
ship's officer who had charge of loading the cargo is "a 
salt, salt sailor," with a florid complexion ; and it was 


his brave part to advance, flap his arms, and say 
" Shoo ! " and then fly behind the first man or barrel, 
or dodge into the warehouse door. The crowd gath- 
ered and increased, the eighty passengers, disregard- 
ing all signs and rules, mounted on the paddle-boxes 
and clung to the ratlines forward, applauded the 
picador and the matador, and hummed suggestive airs 
from Carmen. When the lasso was fastened round 
one creature's horns, and his head was drawn down 
close to a pile, there were nervous moments when we 
waited to see the herder tossed on high, or else vol- 
untarily leaping into the water to escape the savage 
prods of the enraged beast. There was great delay 
in getting the belts ready to put round the animals 
so that they could be swung over into the ship, and 
while the great bull-fight was in progress and the 
hour of sailing had come, the captain rode down the 
wharf in a carriage, strode on to the ship and de- 
manded, in a stiff, official tone, "How long have these 
cattle been here t " '* More than an hour, sir, replied 
the mate. " Turn those cattle loose and draw in the 
gang-plank," was the brief order from the bridge, and 
the one warning shriek of the whistle scattered the 
spectators and sent the excited beasts galloping up 
the wharf. While the gang-plank was being with- 
drawn, two Chinamen came down on a dog trot, 
hidden under bundles of blankets, with balanced bas- 
kets across their shoulders, and pickaxes, pans, and 
mining tools in their arms. Without a tremor the 
two Johns walked out on the swaying plank, and, 
stepping across a gap of more than two feet, landed 
safely on deck, bound and equipped for the deserted 
placer mines on Stikine River. 


We left Victoria at noon, and all the afternoon 
the passengers gave their preliminary ohs ! and ahs ! 
strewed the decks with exclamation points, and buried 
their heads in their pink-covered maps of British 
Columbia, while the ship ran through narrow chan- 
nels and turned sharp curves around the picturesque 
islands for the possession of which England and 
America nearly went to war. San Juan Island, with its 
limekilns, its gardens, meadows, and browsing sheep, 
was as pretty and pastoral a spot as nations ever 
wrangled about, and the Emperor of Germany did 
just the right thing when he drew his imperial pencil 
across the maps and gave this garden spot of San 
Juan to the United States. The beautiful scenery of 
the lower end of the Gulf of Georgia fitly introduces 
one to the beauties of the inland passage which winds 
for nearly a thousand miles between the islands that 
fringe this northwest coast, and even the most cap- 
tious travellers forgot fancied grievances over state- 
rooms, table seats, and baggage regulations. The 
exhausted purser, who had been persecuted all day 
by clamoring passengers and anxious shippers, was 
given a respite, and all was peace, satisfaction, and joy 
on board. In the nine o'clock gloaming we rounded 
the most northern lighthouse that gleams on this 
shore of the Pacific, and, winding in and through the 
harbor of Nanaimo, dropped anchor in Departure 

The coal mines of Nanaimo have given it a com- 
mercial importance upon which it bases hopes of a 
great future ; but it has no bustling air to it, to im- 
press the stranger from over the border with that 
prospect. In early days it was an important trading- 


post of the Hudson Bay Company, and a quaint old 
block-house still stands as a relic of the times when 
the Indian canoes used to blacken the beach at the 
seasons of the great trades. The traders first opened 
the coal seams near Nanaimo, and thirty years ago 
used to pay the Indians one blanket for every eight 
barrels of coal brought out. 

Geologists have hammered their way all up the 
Pacific Coast without finding a trace of true coal, and 
on account of the recent geological formation of the 
country they consider further search useless. The 
nearest to true coal that has been found was the coal 
seam on the Arctic shore of Alaska near Cape Lis- 
burn. Captain Hooper, U. S. R. M., found the vein, 
and his vessel, the Corwin, was supplied with coal 
from it during an Arctic cruise in 1880. Otherwise, 
the lignite beds of Vancouver Island supply the best 
steaming coal that can be had on the coast, and a 
fleet of colliers ply between Nanaimo and the chief 
ports on the Pacific. 

The mines nearest the town of Nanaimo were ex- 
hausted soon after they were worked systematically, 
and operations were transferred to Newcastle Island 
in the harbor opposite the town. A great fire in 
the Newcastle mine obliged the owners to close and 
abandon it, and the whole place stands as it was 
left, the cabins and works dropping slowly to decay. 
Even the quarry from which the fine stone was taken 
for the United States Mint at San Francisco is aban- 
doned, and its broken derricks and refuse heaps 
make a forlorn break in the beauty of the mild 
shores of the island. 

Richard Dunsmuir found the Wellington mines at 


Departure Bay by accident, his horse stumbling on a 
piece of lignite coal as he rode down through the 
woods one day. The admiral of the British fleet and 
one other partner ventured ;£'i,ooo each in develop- 
ing the mine, and at the end of ten years the admiral 
withdrew with ^^50,000 as his share, and a year since 
the other partner sold out his interests to Mr. Duns- 
muir for ;^i 50,000. At present the mines pay a 
monthly profit of ;£8,ooo, and Yankee engineers claim 
that that income might be doubled if the mines were 
worked on a larger scale, as, with duty included, this 
black lignite commands the highest price and is most 
in demand in all the cities of California and Oregon. 
Mr. Dunsmuir is the prime mover in building the 
Island railway, which is to connect Nanaimo with the 
naval harbor of Esquimault near Victoria. Charles 
Crocker and Leland Stanford of the Central Pacific 
road are connected with Mr. Dunsmuir in this under- 
taking, and to induce these capitalists to take hold of 
it the colonial government gave a land grant twenty- 
five miles wide along the whole seventy miles of the 
railroad, with all the timber and mineral included. 

The great Wellington mines have had their strikes, 
and after the last one the white workmen were sup- 
planted by Chinese, who, though wanting the brawn 
and muscle of the Irishmen, could work in the sulphur 
formations without injuring their eyes. By an explo- 
sion of fire-damp in May, 1884, many lives were lost, 
and gloom was cast over the little settlement on the 
sunny bay. 

On this lee shore of Vancouver Island the climate 
is even softer and milder than at Victoria, and during 
my three visits Nanaimo has always been steeped in 


a golden calm of steady sunshine. While waiting for 
the three or four hundred tons of coal to be dropped 
into the hold, carload by carload, the passengers 
amuse themselves by visiting the quiet little town, 
stirring up the local trade, and busying the post- 
master and the telegraph operator A small boy 
steers and commands the comical little steam-tug that 
is omnibus and street car for the Nanaimo and Well- 
ington people, and makes great profits while passen- 
ger steamers are coaling. 

When all the anglers, the hunters, the botanists 
and the geologists had gone their several ways 
from the ship one coaling day, the captain made a 
diversion for the score of ladies left behind, by order- 
ing out a lifeboat, and having the little tug tow us 
around the bay and over to Nanaimo. When the 
ladies had all scattered into the various shops, the cap- 
tain made the tour of the town and found that there 
was not a trout to be had in that market. Then he 
arranged that if the returning fishermen came back 
to the ship in the evening and laid their strings of 
trout triumphantly on deck, a couple of Indians should 
force their way into the admiring crowd and demand 
pay for fish sold to the anglers. Can any one pic- 
ture that scene and the effect of the joke, when it 
dawned upon the group .-^ 

A great bonfire on the beach in the evening 
rounded off that coaling day, and the captain de- 
clared the celebration to be in honor of Cleveland 
and Hendricks, who had that day been nominated 
at the National Democratic Convention in Chicago. 
Although the partisans of the other side declined to 
consider it a ratification meeting on British soil, they 


helped heap up the burning logs and drift-wood until 
the whole bay was lighted with the flames. With 
blue lights, fire-crackers, rockets and pistol-popping 
the f8te continued, the Republicans deriding all 
boasts and prophecies of their opponents, until the 
commander threatened to drop them on some de- 
serted island off the course until after the election. 
History has since set its seal upon the prophecies 
then made, and some of the modest participants of 
the Democratic faith think their international bon- 
fire assisted in the result. 




IF Claude Melnotte had wanted to paint a fairer 
picture to his lady, he should have told Pauline 
of this glorious northwest coast, fringed with islands, 
seamed with fathomless channels of clear, green, sea 
water, and basking in the soft, mellow radiance of this 
summer sunshine. The scenery gains everything 
from being translated through the medium of a soft, 
pearly atmosphere, where the light is as gray and 
evenly diffused as in Old England itself. The dis- 
tant mountain ranges are lost in the blue vaporous 
shadows, and nearer at hand the masses and outlines 
show in their pure contour without the obtrusion of 
all the garish details that rob so many western moun- 
tain scenes of their grander effects. The calm of the 
brooding air, the shimmer of the opaline sea around 
one, and the ranges of green and russet hills, misty 
purple mountains, and snowy summits on the faint 
horizon, give a dream-like coloring to all one's 
thoughts. A member of the Canadian Parliament, in 
speaking of this coast country of British Columbia, 
called it the " sea of mountains " and the channels of 
the ocean through which one winds for days are but as 
endless valleys and steep canons between the peaks 
and ranges that rise abruptly from the water's edge. 


Only the fiords and inlets of the coast of Norway, 
and the wooded islands in the Inland Sea of Japan, 
present anything like a counterpart to the wonderful 
scenery of these archipelagos of the North Pacific. 
From the head of Puget Sound to the mouth of the 
Chilkat River there are seven hundred and thirty-two 
miles of latitude, and the trend of the coast and the 
ship's windings between and around the islands make 
it an actual voyage of more than a thousand miles 
on inland waters. 

The Strait or Gulf of Georgia, that separates Van- 
couver's Island from the mainland, although widening 
at times to forty miles, is for the most part like a 
broad river or lake, landlocked, walled by high moun- 
tain ranges on both sides, and choked at either end 
with groups of islands. The mighty current of the 
Frazer River rolls a pale green flood of fresh water 
into it at the southern entrance, and the river water, 
with its different density and temperature floating on 
the salt water, and cutting through it in a body, shows 
everywhere a sharply defined line of separation. In 
the broad channels schools of whales are often seen 
spouting and leaping, and on a lazy, sunny afternoon, 
while even the mountains seemed dozing in the wave- 
less calm, the idlers on the after deck were roused by 
the cry of " Whales ! " For an hour we watched the 
frolicking of the snorting monsters, as they spouted 
jets of water, arched their black backs and fins above 
the surface, and then disappeared with perpendicular 
whisks of their huge tails. 

Toward the north end of Vancouver's Island, where 
Valdes Island is wedged in between it and the main- 
land shore, the ship enters Discovery Pass, in which 


are the dangerous tide rips of Seymour Narrows. The 
tides rushing in and out of the Strait of Georgia dash 
through this rocky gorge at the rate of four a^id eight 
knots an hour on the turn, and the navigators time 
their sailing hours so as to reach this perilous place 
in daylight and at the flood tide. Even at that time 
the water boils in smooth eddies and deep whirlpools, 
and a ship is whirled half round on its course as it 
threads the narrow pass between the reefs. At other 
times the water dashes over the rapids and raises 
great waves that beat back an opposing bow, and the 
dullest landsman on the largest ship appreciates the 
real dangers of the run through this wild ravine, 
where the wind races with the water and howls in 
the rigging after the most approved fashion for thrill- 
ing marine adventures. Nautical gossips tell one of 
vessels that, steaming against the furious tide, have 
had their paddle wheels reversed by its superior 
strength, and have been swept back to wait the favor- 
able minutes of slack water. Others, caught by the 
opposing current, are said to have been slowly forced 
back, or, steaming at full speed, have not gained an 
inch of headway for two hours. The rise and fall of 
the tides is thirteen feet in these narrows, and al- 
though there are from twenty to sixty fathoms of 
water in the true channel, there is an ugly ledge and 
isolated rocks in the middle of the pass on which 
there are only two and a quarter fathoms. Long be- 
fore Vancouver carried his victorious ensign through 
these unknown waters, the Indians had known and 
dreaded these rapids as the abode of an evil spirit, 
and for half a century the adventurous Hudson Bay 
traders went warily through the raging whirlpools. 


Although the British Admiralty have made careful 
surveys, and the charts are in the main accurate, 
there have been serious wrecks on this part of the 
coast. The United States man-of-war Saranac was 
lost in Seymour Narrows on the i8th of June, 1875. 
The Saranac was an old side-wheel steamer of the 
second rate in naval classification, carrying eleven 
guns, and was making its third trip to Alaskan 
waters. There was an unusually low tide the morn- 
ing the Saranac entered the pass, and the ship was 
soon caught in the wild current, and sent broadside 
on to the mid-rock. It swung off, and was headed 
for the Vancouver shore, and made fast with hawsers 
to the trees, but there was only time to lower a boat 
with provisions and the more important papers before 
the Saranac sunk, and not even the masts were left 
visible. The men camped on shore while a party 
went in the small boats to Nanaimo for help. No 
attempt was ever made to raise the ship, and in the 
investigation it was shown that the boilers were in 
such a condition when they reached Victoria, that 
striking the rock in Seymour Narrows was only one 
of the perils that awaited those on board. No lives 
were lost by this disaster, and Dr. Bessels, o. the 
Smithsonian Institute, who was on his way up the coast 
to make a collection of Indian relics for the Centen- 
nial Exposition, showed a scientist's zeal in merely 
regretting the delay, and continuing on his journey 
by the first available craft. In April, 1883, the 
steamer Grappler, which plied between Victoria and 
the trading-posts on the west coast, took fire late at 
night, just as it was entering Seymour Narrows. 
The flames reached the hempen rudder-ropes, and 



the boat was soon helplessly drifting into the rapids. 
Flames and clouds of smoke made it difficult to 
launch the boats, and all but one were swamped. 
The frantic passengers leaped overboard while the 
ship was whirling and careening in the rapids, and 
the captain, with life-preser\-er on, was swept off, 
and disappeared in midstream. The Grappler finally 
drifted in to the Vancouver shore, and burned until 
daylight Another United States war vessel, the 
Suwanee was lost a hundred miles beyond the Sey- 
mour Narrows by striking an unknown rock at 
entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound. 

In crossing this forty-mile stretch of Queen Char- 
lotte Sound the voyager feels the swell, and touches 
the outer ocean for the first time. If the wind is 
strong there may be a chopping sea, but in general it 
is a stilled expanse on which fog and mist eternally 
brood. The Kuro Siwo, or Black Stream, or Japan 
Current, of the Pacific, which corresponds to the 
Gulf Stream of the Atlantic, touches the coast near 
this Sound, and the colder air from the land striking 
this warm river of the sea produces the heavy vapors 
which lie in impenetrable banks for miles, or float in 
filmy and downy clouds along the green mountain 
shores. It is this warm current which modifies the 
climate of the whole Pacific coast, bends the iso- 
thermal lines northward, and makes temperature 
depend upon the distance from the sea instead of 
upon distance from the equator. Bathed in perpetual 

ffog, like the south coast of England and Ireland, 
there is a climatic resemblance in many ways be- 
Jtween the islands of Great Britain and the islands of 
"the British Columbia shore. The constant moisture 


and the long days force vegetation like a hothouse, 
and the density of the forests and the luxuriance of 
the undergrowth are equalled only in the tropics. 
The pine-trees cover the mountain slopes as thickly 
as the grass on a hillside, and as fires have never 
destroyed the forests, only the spring avalanches and 
land-slides break their continuity. There is an in- 
side passage between the mountains from Queen 
Charlotte to Milbank Sound that gave us an after- 
noon and evening in the midst of fine scenery, but 
for another whole day we passed through the grand- 
est of fiords on the British Columbia coast. 

The sun rose at three o'clock on that rare summer 
morning, when the ship thrust her bow into the clear, 
mirror-like waters of the Finlayson Channel, and at 
four o'clock a dozen passengers were up in front 
watching the matchless panorama of mountain walls 
that slipped silently past us. The clear, soft light, 
the pure air, and the stillness of sky, and shore, and 
water, in the early morning, made it seem like the 
dawn of creation in some new paradise. The breath 
of the sea and the breath of the pine forest wehe 
blended in the air, and the silence and calm added to 
the inspiration of the surroundings. The eastern 
wall of the channel lay in pure shadow, the forest 
slopes were deep unbroken waves of green, with a 
narrow base-line of sandstone washed snowy white, 
and beneath that ever}' tree and twig lay reflected in 
the still mirror of waters of a deeper, purer, and softer 
green than the emerald. 

The marks of the spring avalanches were white 
scars on the face of the mountains, and the course 
of preceding landslides showed in the paler green of 


the ferns, bushes, and the dense growth of young 
trees that quickly cover these places. Cliffs of the 
color and boldness of the Yosemite walls shone in 
the sunlight on the opposite side, and wherever there 
were snowbanks on the summits, or lakes in the 
hollows and amphitheatres back of the mountain 
ridge, foaming white cataracts tumbled down the 
sheer walls into the green sea water. Eagles soared 
overhead in long, lazy sweeps, and hundreds of 
young ducks fluttered away from the ship's bow, and 
dived at the sharp echoes of a rifle shot. In this 
Finlayson Channel the soundings give from 50 to 130 
fathoms, and from the surface of these still, deep 
waters the first timbered slopes of the mountains rise 
nearly perpendicularly for 1,500 feet, and their snow- 
crowned summits reach 3,000 feet above their perfect 
reflections. From a width of two miles at the en- 
trance, the pass narrows one half, and then by a turn 
around an island the ship enters Tolmie and Eraser 
channels, which repeat the same wonders in bolder 
forms, and on deeper waters. At the end of that 
last fiord, where submerged mountain peaks stand as 
islands, six diverging channels appear, and the intri- 
cacy of the inside passage up the coast is as marvel- 
lous now, as when Vancouver dropped his anchor in 
this Wright Sound, puzzled as to which way he 
should turn to reach the ocean. Einer even than the 
three preceding fiords is the arrowy reach of Gren- 
ville Channel, which is a narrow cleft in the moun- 
tain range, forty-five miles long, and with scarcely a 
curve to break the bold palisade of its walls. In 
the narrowest part it is not a quarter of a mile in 
width ; and the forest walls, and bold granite cliffs, 


rising there to their greatest height, give back an 
echo many times before it is lost in long rever- 

Emerging from Grenville Channel, the church and 
houses of Metlakatlah, the one model missionary 
settlement on the coast, and an Arcadian village of 
civilized and Christianized Indians, were seen shining 
in the afternoon sun. At that point the water is 
tinged a paler green by the turbid currents of the 
Skeena River, and up that river the newest El Do- 
rado has lately been found. Miners have gone up in 
canoes, and fishermen have dropped their lines and 
joined them in the hunt for gold, which is found in 
nuggets from the size of a pea to solid chunks worth 
;^20 and $60. ''Jerry," the first prospector, took out 
^600 in two days, and in the same week two miners 
panned out $680 in six hours. One nugget, taken 
from a crevice in a rock, was sent down to Victoria, 
and found to be pure gold and worth $26. Other 
consignments of treasure following, that quiet colo- 
nial town has been shaken by a gold fever that is 
sending all the adventurous spirits off to the Lome 
Creek mines. 

Before the sunset hour we crossed Dixon Entrance 
and the famous debatable line of 59° 40', and the 
patriots who said the northern boundary of the 
United States should be " Fifty-nine Forty, or Fight," 
are best remembered now, when it is seen that the 
Alaska possessions begin at that line. We were within 
the Alaska boundaries and standing on United States 
soil again at the fishing station of Tongass, on Wales 
Island. It is a wild and picturesque little place, tucked 
away in the folds of the hills and islands, and the ship 


rounded many points before it dropped anchor in 
front of two new wooden houses on a rocky shore that 
constituted Tongass. A cluster of bark huts and 
tents further down the beach was the home of the 
Indians who catch, salt, and barrel the salmon. There 
was one white man as host at the fish house, a fur- 
capped, sad-eyed mortal, who wistfully said that he 
had not been '' below " in seven years, and entertained 
us with the sight of his one hundred and forty bar- 
rels of salmon, and the vats and scow filled with 
split and salted or freshly caught fish. He showed 
us a string of fine trout that set the amateur fisher- 
men wild, and then gallantly offered to weigh the 
ladies on his new scales. Over in the group of Ton- 
gass Indians, sitting stolidly in a row before their 
houses, there was a *' one-moon-old " baby that gave 
but a look at the staring white people, and then sent 
up one pitiful little barbaric yawp. A clumsy, fiat- 
bottomed scow was rowed slowly out to the steamer, 
and while the salt, the barrel hoops, barrel staves, and 
groceries were unloaded to it from the ship, a ball 
was begun on deck. A merry young miner bound 
for the Chilkat country gave rollicking old tunes on 
his violin, and a Juneau miner called off figures that 
convulsed the dancers and kept the four sets flying on 
the after deck. " The winnowing sound of dancers' 
feet " and the scrape of the fiddle brought a few In- 
dian women out in canoes, and they paddled listlessly 
around the stern, talking in slow gutturals of the 
strange performances of the " Boston people," as all 
United States citizens have been termed by them 
since Captain Gray and John Jacob Astor's ships 
first came to the Northwest coast. At half-past ten 


o'clock daylight still lingered on the sky, and the 
Chicago man gravely read a page of a Lake Shore 
railroad time-table in fine print for a test, and then 
went solemnly to bed, six hundred miles away from 
the rest of the United States. 




FROM the Tongass fishery, which is some miles 
below the main village of the Tongass Indians 
and the deserted fort where United States troops 
were once stationed, the ship made its way by night 
to Cape Fox. At this point on the mainland shore, 
beyond Fort Tongass, the Kinneys, the great salmon 
packers of Astoria, have a cannery that is one of the 
model establishments up here. Two large buildings 
for the cannery, two houses, a store, and the scattered 
line of log houses, bark houses and tents of the In- 
dian village, are all that one sees from the water. In 
the cannery most of the work is done by the Indians, 
but a few Chinamen perform the work which requires 
a certain amount of trainins: and mechanical skill. 
The Indians cast the nets and bring in the shining 
silver fish with their deep moss-green backs and fierce 
mouths, and heap them in slippery piles in an outside 
shed overhanging the water. A Chinaman picks 
them up with a long hook, and, laying them in a row 
across a table, goes through a sleight-of-hand per- 
formance with a sharp knife, which in six minutes 
leaves twenty salmon shorn of their heads, tails, fins, 
and inwards. Experienced visitors to such places took 
out their watches and timed him, and in ten seconds 


a fish was put through his first rough process of trim- 
ming, and passed on to men who washed it, cleaned 
it more thoroughly, scraped off a few scales, and by 
a turn of revolving knives cut it in sections the 
length of a can. Indian women packed the tins, 
which were soldered, plunged into vats of boiling 
water, tested, resoldered, laquered, labelled, and 
packed in boxes in quick routine. There was the 
most perfect cleanliness about the cannery, and the 
salmon itself is only touched after the last washing 
by the fingers of the Indian women, who fill the cans 
with solid pieces of bright red flesh. In 1883 there 
were 3,784 cases of canned salmon shipped from 
this establishment as the result of the first season's 
venture. In the following year, 1,156 cases were 
shipped by the July steamer, and the total for the 
season was about double that of the preceding year. 

Owing to the good salmon season and the steady 
employment given them at the cannery, the In- 
dians held their things so high that even the most 
insatiate and abandoned curio-buyers made no pur- 
chases, although there has been regret ever since at 
the thought of the wide old bracelets and the finely- 
woven hats that they let escape them. At Cape 
Fox a shrewd Indian came aboard, and spied the 
amateur photographer taking groups on deck. Imme- 
diately he was eager to be taken as well, and followed 
the camera around, repeating, ''How much Siwash 
picture > " He was not to be appeased by any state- 
ments about the photographer doing his work for his 
own amusement, and pleaded so hard that the artist 
finally relented and turned his camera upon him. 
The Indian stiffened himself into his most rigid atti 


tude, when directed to a corner of the deck between 
two lifeboats, and when the process was over he could 
hardly be made to stir from his pose. When we 
pressed him to tell us what he wanted his picture for, 
he chuckled like any civilized swain, and confessed 
the whole sentimental story by the mahogany blush 
that mantled his broad cheeks. 

Up Revillagigedo Channel the scenery is more like 
that of the Scotch lakes, broad expanses of water 
walled by forest ridges and mountains that in certain 
lights show a glow like blooming heather on their 
sides. The Tongass Narrows, which succeed this 
channel of the long name, give niore views of ca- 
nons filled with water, winding between high bluffs 
and sloping summits. It was a radiant sunny morn- 
ing when we steamed slowly through these beautiful 
waterways, and at noon the ship turned into a long 
green inlet on the Revillagigedo shore, and cast an- 
chor at the head of Naha Bay. Of all the lovely 
spots in Alaska, commend me to this little landlocked 
bay, where the clear green waters are stirred with the 
leaping of thousands of salmon, and the shores are 
clothed with an enchanted forest of giant pines, and 
the undergrowth is a tangle of ferns and salmon-berry 
bushes, and the ground and every log are covered 
with wonderful mosses, into which the foot sinks at 
every step. 

The splash of the leaping salmon was on every 
side and at every moment, and the sight of the large 
fish jumping above the surface and leaping through 
the air caused the excitable passenger at the stern to 
nearly capsize the small boat and steer wildly. As 
the sailors rowed the boat up the narrow bay, where 


the ship could barely swing round with the tide, the 
Chicago man pensively observed : " There 's a thou- 
sand dollars jumping in the air every ten minutes ! " 

The anglers were maddened at the sight of these 
fish, for although these wild northern salmon can 
sometimes be deluded by trolling with a spoon-hook, 
they have no taste for such small things as flies, and 
are usually caught with seines or spears, except dur- 
ing those unusual salmon runs when the Indians wade 
in among the crowded fins and shovel the fish ashore 
with their canoe paddles. 

At the head of Naha Bay, over a narrow point of 
land, lies a beautiful mountain lake, whose surface is a 
trifle below the high-water mark, and at low tide there 
is a fine cascade of fresh water foaming from between 
the rocks in the narrow outlet. During the run of 
salmon, the pool at the foot of the fall is crowded with 
the struggling fish ; but the net is cast in the lake as 
often as in the bay, and the average catch is eighty 
barrels of salmon a day. The salmon are cleaned, 
salted, and barrelled in a long warehouse overhanging 
the falls, and a few bark houses belonging to the In- 
dians who work in the fishery are perched pictu- 
resquely on the little wooded point between the 
two waters. Floating across this lovely lake in a slimy 
boat that the Indians had just emptied of its last 
catch of salmon, the beauty of its shores was more 
apparent, and the overhanging trees, the thickets of 
ferns, bushes, and wild grasses, the network of fallen 
logs hidden under their thick coating of moss, and 
the glinting of the sunshine on bark and moss and 
lichens, excited our wildest enthusiasm. In Alaska 
one sees the greatest range of greens in nature, and 


it is an education of the eye in that one color to study 
the infinite shades, tints, tones, and suggestions of 
that primary color. Of all green and verdant woods, 
I know of none that so satisfy one with their rank 
luxuriance, their beauty and picturesqueness ; and one 
feels a little sorrow for those people who, never hav- 
ing seen Alaska, are blindly worshipping the barren, 
burnt, dried-out, starved-out forests of the East. In 
still stretches of this lake at Naha there are mirrored 
the snow-capped summits whose melting snows fill 
its banks, and the echo from a single pistol-shot is 
flung back from side to side before it dies away in 
a roar. Beyond this lake there is a chain of lakes, 
reached by connecting creeks and short portages, 
and the few white men who have penetrated to the 
farthest tarn in the heart of Revillagigedo Island say 
that each lake is wilder and more lovely than the last 
one. A mile below the fishery, and back in the 
woods, there is a waterfall some forty feet in height ; 
and a mountain stream, hurrying down from the 
clear pools and snow-banks on the upper heights, 
takes a leap over a ledge of rocks and covers it with 
foam and sparkling waters. 

The fishery and trading-post at Naha Bay was es- 
tablished in 1883, and shipped 338 barrels of salted 
salmon that first season. In 1884 over 500 barrels 
were shipped, and throughout June and July the sal- 
mon were leaping in the bay so thickly that at the 
turn of the tide their splashing was like falling rain. 




KASA-AN, or Karta Bay opens from Clarence 
Strait directly west of Naha Bay, and the long 
inlet runs in from the eastern shore of the Prince of 
Wales island for twenty miles. There are villages 
of Kasa-an Indians in the smaller inlets and coves 
opening from the bay, and carved ^ote7n poles stand 
guard over the large square houses of these native 
settlements. The bay itself is as lovely a stretch of 
water as can be imagined, sheltered, sunny, and calm, 
with noble mountains outlining its curves, and wooded 
islands drifted in picturesque groups at the end. It 
was a Scotch loch glorified, on the radiant summer 
days that I spent there, and it recalled one's best 
memories of Lake George in the softer aspects of its 

Smaller inlets opening from the bay afford glimpses 
into shady recesses in the mountain-sides, and one 
little gap in the shores at last gave us a sight of the 
trader's store, the long row of lichen-covered and moss- 
grown sheds of the fishery, with the usual cluster of 
bark houses and tents above a shelving beach strewn 
with narrow, black canoes. A group of Indians 
gathered on shore, their gay blankets, dresses, and 
cotton kerchiefs addins: a fine touch of color to the 


scene, and the men in the fishery, in their high rubber 
boots and aprons, flannel shirts and big hats, were 
heroic adjuncts to the picturesque and out-of-the-way 

There was a skurrying to and fro and great excite- 
ment when the big steamer rounded slowly up to the 
little wharf, and bow line, stern line, and breast lines 
were thrown out, fastened to the piles and to the trees 
on shore, and the slack hauled in at the stentorian 
commands of the mate. Karta, or Kasa-an Bay has 
been a famous place for salmon for a score of years, 
and is best known, locally, as the Baronovich fishery. 
Old Charles V. Baronovich was a relic of Russian 
days, and a character on the coast. He was a Slav, 
and gifted with all the cunning of that race, and after 
the transfer of the country to the United States, he 
disturbed the serenity of the customs officials by the 
steady smuggling that he kept up from over the 
British border. He would import all kinds of stores, 
but chiefly bales of English blankets, by canoe, and 
when the collector or special agent would penetrate 
to this fastness of his, they found no damaging proof 
in his store, and only a peppery, hot-headed old pirate, 
who swore at them roundly in a compound language 
of Russian, Indian, and English, and shook his 
crippled limbs with rage. He was also suspected of 
selling liquor to the Indians, and a revenue cutter 
once put into Kasa-an Bay, with a commander whom 
smugglers seldom baffled, and who was bound to un- 
cover Baronovich's* wickedness. The wily old Slav 
received the officers courteously. He listened to the 
formal announcement of the purpose of their visit, and 
bade them search the place and kindly do him the 


honor of dining with him when they finished. Baro- 
novich dozed and smoked, and idled the afternoon 
away, while a watch kept a close eye upon him, and the 
officers and men searched the packing-house, the In- 
dian houses and tents, and the canoes on the beach. 
They followed every trail and broken pathway into 
the woods, tapped hollow trees, dug under the logs, 
and peered down into the waters of the bay, and 
finally gave up the search, convinced that there was 
no liquor near the place. Baronovich gave them a 
good dinner, and towards the close a bottle of whis- 
key was set before each officer, and the host led with 
a toast to the captain of the cutter and the revenue 

This queer old fellow married one of the daughters 
of Skowl, the Haida chief who ruled the bay. She 
is said to have been a very comely maiden when Baro- 
novich married her, and is now a stately, fine-looking 
woman, with good features and a creamy complexion. 
While Baronovich was cleaning his gun one day, it 
was accidentally discharged, and one of his children 
fell dead by his own hand. The Indians viewed this 
deed with horror, and demanded that Skowl should 
take his life in punishment. As it was proved an 
accident, Skowl defended his son-in-law from the 
charge of murder, and declared that he should go 
free. Ever after that the Indians viewed Baronovich 
with a certain fear, and ascribed to him that quality 
which the Italians call the "evil eye." 

With the passion of his race for fine weapons and 
fine metal work, Baronovich possessed many old arms 
that are worthy of an art museum. A pair of duel- 
ling pistols covered with fine engraving and inlaying 


were bought of his widow by one of the naval officers 
in command of the man-of-war on this station, and 
an ancient double-barrelled flint-lock shot-gun lately 
passed into the hands of another officer. The shot- 
gun has the stock and barrels richly damascened with 
silver and gold, after the manner of the finest Span- 
ish metal work, and the clear gray flints in the trigger 
give out a shower of sparks when struck. Gunnell 
of London was the maker of this fine fowling-piece, 
and it is now used in the field by its new owner, who 
prefers it to the latest Remington. 

Baronovich was a man with a long and highly-col- 
ored history by all the signs, but he died a few years 
since with no biographer at hand, and his exploits, 
adventures, and oddities are now nearly forgotten. 
The widow Baronovich still lives at Kasa-an, unwil- 
ling to leave this peaceful sunny nook in the moun- 
tains, but the fishery is now leased to a ship captain, 
who has taken away the fine old flavor of piracy and 
smuggling, and substituted a regime of system, en- 
terprise, and eternal cleanliness. 

The wandering salmon that swarm on this coast by 
millions show clear instincts when they choose, with- 
out an exception, only the most picturesque and 
attractive nooks to jump in. They dart and leap up 
Kasa-an Bay to the mouths of all the little creeks at 
its head, and three times during the year the water is 
alive with them. The best salmon run in June and 
July, and in one day the seine brought in eighteen 
hundred salmon in a single haul. Two thousand and 
twenty-one hundred fish have weighted the net at dif- 
erent hauls, and the fish-house was overrunning with 
these royal salmon. Indian women do the most of 


the work in the fishery — cleaning and splitting the 
fish and taking out the backbones and the worthless 
parts with some very deft strokes from their murder- 
ous-looking knives. The salmon are washed thor- 
oughly and spread between layers of dry salt in large 
vats. Brine is poured over them, and they are left 
for eight days in pickle. Boards and weights are laid 
on the top of the vats, and they are then barrelled 
and stored in a long covered shed and treated to more 
strong brine through the bung-hole until ready for 
shipment. Of all salt fish the salt salmon is the 
finest, and here, where salmon are so plentiful, a bar- 
relled dainty is put up in the shape of salmon bellies, 
which saves only the fattest and most tender portions 
of these rich, bright red Kasa-an salmon. 

Over fifteen hundred barrels were packed in 1884, 
and under the new regime the Kasa-an fishery has 
distanced its rivals in quantity, while the quality has 
a long-established fame. 

These Kasa-an Indians are a branch of the Haidas, 
the finest of the Indian tribes of the coast. They 
are most intelligent and industrious people, and are 
skilled in many ways that render them superior to 
the other tribes of the island. Their permanent 
village is some miles below the fishery, and their 
square whitewashed houses, and the tomb and mortu- 
ary column of Skowl, their great chief, makes quite 
a pretty scene in a shady green inlet near Barono- 
vich's old copper mine. A few of their houses at the 
fishery are of logs or rough-hewn planks, but the 
m.ost of them are bark huts, with a rustic arbor hung 
full of drying salrnon outside. These bits of bright- 
red salmon, against the slabs of rough hemlock bark, 


make a gay trimming for each house, and when a 
bronzed old hag, in a dun-colored gown, with yellow 
'kerchief on her head, stirs up the fire of snapping 
fir boughs, and directs a column of smoke toward the 
drying fish, it is a bit of aborigine life to set an 
artist wild. Their bark houses are scattered irregu- 
larly along the beach above high-water mark, and a 
fleet of slender, black canoes, with high, carved bows, 
are drawn up on the sand and pebbles. The canoe 
is the only means of locomotion in this region of 
unexplored and impenetrable woods, and the Indian 
is even more at home in it than on shore. No horse- 
man cares for his steed more faithfully than the 
Siwash tends and mends his graceful cedar canoe, 
hewn from a single log, and given its flare and grace- 
ful curves by being steamed with water and hot 
stones, and then braced to its intended width. The 
Haida canoe has the same high, double-beaked prow 
of the Chinook canoes of Puget Sound, but where 
the stern of the latter drops in a straight line to the 
keel, the Haida canoe has a deep convex curve. By 
universal fashion all of these canoes are painted 
black externally, with the thwarts and bows lined 
with red, and sometimes the interior brightened with 
that color. The black paint used to be made from 
a mixture of seal oil and bituminous coal, and the red 
paint was the natural clay found in places throughout 
all Indian countries. Latterly the natives have 
taken to depending on the traders' stores for paint, 
but civilization has never grasped them so firmly as 
to cause them to put seats or cross-pieces in their 
canoes. They squat or sit flat in the bottom of their 
dugouts for hours without changing position. It 


gives white men cramps and stiff joints to look 
at them, and sailors are no luckier than landsmen in 
their attempts to paddle and keep their balance in 
one of these canoes for the first time. The Indians 
use a broad, short paddle, which they plunge straight 
down into the water like a knife, and they literally 
shovel the water astern with it. The woman, who 
has a good many rights up here that her sisters of 
the western plains know not, sits back of her liege, 
and with a waving motion, never taking the paddle 
out of the water once, steers and helps on the craft. 
Often she paddles steadily, while the man bales out 
the water with a wooden scoop. When the canoes 
are drawn up on the beach they are carefully filled 
with grass and branches, and covered with mats or 
blankets to keep them sound and firm. A row of 
these high-beaked canoes thus draped has a very 
singular effect, and on a gloomy day they are like so 
many catafalques or funeral gondolas. Baronovich's 
old schooner, the Pioneer of Cazaity lies stranded on 
the beach in the midst of the native boats, moss 
and lichens tenderly covering its timbers, and vagrant 
grasses springing up in the seams of the old wreck. 
The dark, cramped httle cabin is just the" place for 
ghosts of corsairs and the goblins of sailors' yarns, 
and although it has lain there many seasons, no 
Indian has yet pre-empted it as a home for his 
family and dogs. 

The thrifty Siwash, which is the generic and com- 
mon name for these people, and a corruption of the 
old French voyagers' sauvage, keeps his valuables 
stored in heavy cedar chests, or gaudy red trunks 
studded with brass nails ; the latter costly prizes 



with which the Russian traders used to tempt them. 
At the first sound of the steamer's paddle-wheels, — 
and they can be heard for miles in these fiords, — 
the Indians rummaged their houses and chests and 
sorted out their valuable things, and when the first 


ardent curio-seeker rushed through the packing- 
houses and out towards the bark huts, their wares 
were all displayed. The Haidas are famous as the 
best carvers, silversmiths, and workers on the coast ; 
and there are some of their best artists in this little 
band on Kasa-an Bay. An old blind man, with a 
battered hat on his head and a dirty white blanket 


wrapped around him, sat before one bark hut, with a 
large wooden bowl filled with carved spoons made 
from the horns of the mountain goat. These spoons, 
once in common use among all these people, are now 
disappearing, as the rage for the tin and pewter uten- 
sils in the traders' stores increases, although many of 
them have the handles polished and the bowls worn 
by the daily usage of generations. The horn is nat- 
urally black, and constant handling and soaking in 
seal oil gives them a jetty lustre that adds much 
to the really fine carvings on the handles. Silver 
bracelets pounded out of coin, and ornamented with 
traceries and chasings by the hand of " Kasa-an 
John," the famous jeweller of the tribe, were the 
prizes eagerly sought and contended for by the 
ladies. The bangle mania rages among the Haida 
maids and matrons as fiercely as on civilized shores, 
and dusky wrists were outstretched on which from 
three to nine bracelets lay in shining lines like jointed 
mail. Anciently they pounded a single heavy brace- 
let from a silver dollar piece, and ornamented the 
broad two-inch band with heraldic carvings of the 
crow, the bear, the raven, the whale, and other em- 
blematic beasts of their strangely mixed mythology. 
Latterly they have become corrupted by civilized 
fashions, and they have taken to narrow bands, ham- 
mered from half dollars and carved with scrolls, con- 
ventional eagles copied from coins, and geometrical 
designs. They have no fancy for gold ornaments, 
and they are very rarely seen ; but the fancy for silver 
is universal, and their methodical way of converting 
every coin into a bracelet and stowing it away in 
their chests gives hope of there being one place 


where the surplus silver and the* trade dollars may 
be legitimately made away with. 

In one house an enlightened and non-skeptical 
Indian was driving sharp bargains in the sale of medi- 
cine-men's rattles and charms, and kindred relics of a 
departed faith. His scoffing and irreverent air would 
have made hi^ancestors' dust shake, but he pocketed 
the chickamin, or money, without even a supersti- 
tious shudder. The amateur curio-buyers found 
themselves worsted and outgeneralled on every side 
in this rich market of Kasa-an by a Juneau trader, 
who gathered up the things by wholesale, and, carry- 
ing them on board, disposed of them at a stupendous 
advance. " No more spoon," said the old blind chief 
as he jingled the thirteen dollars that he had received 
from this trader for his twenty beautifully carved 
spoons, and the tourists who had to pay two dollars a 
piece for these ancestral ladles echoed his refrain and 
began to see how profits might mount up in trading 
in the Indian country. Dance blankets from the 
Chilkat country, woven in curious designs in black, 
white, and yellow wool, spun from the fleece of the 
mountain goat, were paraded by the anxious owners, 
and the strangers elbowed one another, stepped on 
the dogs, and rubbed the oil from the dripping sal- 
mon overhead in the smoky huts, in order to see and 
buy all of these things. 

Old Skowl bid defiance to the missionaries while he 
lived, and kept his people strictly to the faith and the 
ways of their fathers. If they fell sick, the shaman or 
medicine-man came with his rattles and charms, and 
with great hoais-pocus and '' Presto change " drove 
away or propitiated the evil spirits that were tor- 


meriting the sufferer. If the patient did not imme- 
diately respond to the treatment, the doctor would 
accuse some one of bewitching his victim, and 
demand that he should be tortured or put to death in 
order to relieve the afflicted one. It thus became 
a serious matter for every one when the doctor was 
sent for, as not even the chiefs were safe from being 
denounced by these wizards. No slave could be- 
come a shaman, but the profession was open to any 
one else, regardless of rank or riches, and the medi- 
cine man was a self-made grandee, unless some great 
deformity marked him for that calling from birth. 
As preparation for his life-work he went off by him- 
self, and fasted in the woods for many days. Return- 
ing, he danced in frenzy about the village, seizing 
and biting the flesh of live dogs, and eating the 
heads and tongues of frogs. This latter practice 
accounts for the image of the frog appearing on all 
the medicine men's rattles ; and in the totemic car- 
vings the frog is the symbol of the shaman, or speaks 
of some incident connected with him. Each shaman 
elected to himself a familiar spirit, either the whale, 
the bear, the eagle, or some one of the mythological 
beasts, and gifted with its qualities, and under the 
guidance of this totemic spirit, he performed his 
cures and miracles. This token was carved on his 
rattles, his masks, drums, spoons, canoes, and all 
his belongings. It was woven on his blankets, and 
after death it was carved on bits of fossil ivory, 
whale and walrus teeth, and sewed to his grave- 
clothes. The shaman s body was never burned, but 
was laid in state in the large grave boxes that are 
seen on the outskirts of every village. Columns 


capped with totemic animals and flags mark these 
little houses of the dead, and many of them have 
elaborately carved and painted walls. The sJiamaiis 
hair was never cut nor touched by profane hands, 
and each hair was considered a sacred charm by 
the people. Captain Merriman, while in command 
of the U. S. S. Adams, repeatedly interfered with 
two shamanSy who were denouncing and putting to 
torture the helpless women and children in a village 
where the black measles was raging. He found the 
victims of this witchcraft persecution with their 
ankles fastened to their wrists in dark, underground 
holes, or tied to the rocks at low tide that they 
might be slowly drowned by the returning waters. 
All threats failing, the two shamans were carried on 
the Adams, and the ship's barber sheared and shaved 
their heads. The matted hair was carried down to 
the boiler room and burned, for if it had been 
thrown overboard it would have been caught and 
preserved, and the shamans could have retained at 
least a vestige of authority. The Indians raised a 
great outcry at the prospect of harm or indignity 
being offered" their 'inedicine-men, but when the two 
shaved heads appeared at the gangway, the Indians 
set up shouts of derision, and there were none so 
poor as to do them honor after that. A few such 
salutary examples did much to break up these prac- 
tices, and though their notions of our medicine are 
rather crude, they have implicit faith in the white, or 
''Boston doctors." 

If these fish-eating, canoe-paddling Indians of the 
northwest coast are superior to the hunters and 
horsemen of the western plains, the Haidas are the 


most remarkable of the coast tribes, and offer a fas- 
cinating study to anyone interested in native races 
and fellow man. From Cape Fox to Mount St. Elias 
the Indians of the Alaska coast are known by the 
ofeneric name of Thlinkets, but in the subdivision of 
the Thlinkets into tribes, or kwans, the Haidas are 
not included. The Thlinkets consider the Haidas as 
aliens, but, except in the language, they have many 
things in common, and it takes the ethnologist's eye 
to detect the differences. The greater part of the 
Haida tribe proper inhabit the Queen Charlotte 
Islands in the northern part of British Columbia, and 
the few bands living in villages in the southern part of 
Alaska are said to be malcontents and secessionists, 
who paddled away and found homes for themselves 
across Dixon Entrance. I have heard it stated, with- 
out much authority to sustain it, however, that old 
Skowl was a deserter of this kind, and, not approving 
of some of the political methods of the other chiefs 
in his native village, withdrew with his followers and 
founded a colony in Kasa-an Bay. This aboriginal 
" mugwump," as he would be rated in the slang of the 
day, was conservative in other things, and his people 
have the same old customs and traditions as the Hai- 
das of the original villages on the Queen Charlotte 

Where the Haidas really did come from is an un- 
ending puzzle, and in Alaska the origin and migra- 
tion of races are subjects continually claiming one's 
attention. There is enough to be seen by superficial 
glances to suggest an Omental origin, and those who 
believe in the emigration of the Indians from Asia by 
way of Behring Straits, or the natural causeway of the 


Aleutian Islands, in prehistoric times, find an array of 
strange suggestions and resemblances among the 
Haidas to encourage their theories. That the name 
of this tribe corresponds to the name of the great 
mountain range of Japan may be a mere coincidence, 
but a few scholars who have visited them say that 
there are many Japanese words and idioms in their 
language, and that the resemblance of the Haidas to 
the Ainos of northern Japan is striking enough to 
suggest some kinship. Opposed to this, however, is 
the testimony of Marchand, the French voyager, who 
visited the Haidas in 1791, and recognizing Aztec 
words and terminations in their speech, and resem- 
blances to Aztec work in their monuments and picture- 
writings, first started the theory that they were from 
the south, and descendants of those who, driven out 
of Mexico by Cortez, vanished in boats to the north. 
To continue the puzzle, the Haidas have some Apache 
words in their vocabulary, and have the same gro- 
tesque dance-masks, and many of the same dances 
and ceremonies that Gushing describes in his 
sketches of life among the Zunis in New Mexico. 
Hon. James G. Swan, of Port Townsend, who has 
given thirty years to a study of the Indians of the 
northwest coast, has lately given much attention to 
the Haidas of the Queen Gharlotte Islands, and has 
made large collections of their implements and art 
works for the Smithsonian Institute. He found the 
Haida tradition and representation of the great spirit, 
— the Thunder Bird, — to be the same as that of the 
Aztecs, and when he showed sketches of Aztec car- 
vings to the Haidas they seemed to recognize and un- 
derstand them at once. Gopper images and relics 


found in their possession were identical with some 
silver images found in ruins in Guatemala by a British 
archaeologist. Judge Swan has collected many 
strange legends and allegories during his canoe jour- 
neys to the isolated Haida villages, and his guide and 
attendant, Johnny Kit-Elswa, who conducts him to 
the great October feasts and dances, is a clever 
young Haida silversmith and a remarkable genius. 
Judge Swan has written a memoir on Haida tattoo 
masks, paintings, and heraldic columns, which was 
published as No. 267 of the Smithsonian Contributions 
to Knowledge, January, 1874. In The West Shore 
magazine of August, 1884, he published a long arti- 
cle with illustrations upon the same subjects, and his 
library and cabinet, his journals and sketch-books, 
contain many wonderful things relating to the history 
and life of these strange people. 




THOSE who believe that all Alaska is a place of 
perpetual rain, fog, snow, and ice would be 
quickly disabused could they spend some of the ideal 
summer days in that most lovely harbor of Fort Wran- 
gell. Each time the sky was clearer and the air 
milder than before, and on the day of my third visit 
the fresh beams of the morning sun gave an 
infinite charm to the landscape, as we turned from 
Clarence Straits into the narrower pass between the 
islands, and sailed across waters that reflected in 
shimmering, pale blue and pearly lights the wonder- 
ful panorama of mountains. Though perfectly clear, 
the light was softened and subdued, and even on 
such a glorious sunny morning there was no glare nor 
harshness in the atmosphere. This pale, soft light 
gave a dreamy, poetic quality to the scenery, and 
the first ranges of mountains above the water shaded 
from the deep green and russet of the nearer pine 
forests to azure and purple, where their further sum- 
mits were outlined against the sky or the snow-cov- 
ered peaks that were mirrored so faithfully in the long 
stretches of the channel. The sea water lost its 
deep green tints at that point, and was discolored and 


tinged to a muddy tea green by the fresh current of 
the Stikine River, which there reaches the ocean. 

The great circle of mountains and snow-peaks, and 
the stretch of calm waters lying in this vast landlocked 
harbor, give Fort Wrangell an enviable situation. 
The little town reached its half-century of existence 
last summer, but no celebrations stirred the placid, 
easy-going life of its people. It was founded in 
1834 by order of Baron Wrangell, then Governor 
of Russian America and chief director of the fur 
company, who sent the Captain-Lieut. Dionysius 
Feodorovich Zarembo down from Sitka to erect a 
stockade post on the small tongue of land now occu- 
pied by the homes, graves, and totem poles of the 
Indian village. It was known at first as the trading 
post of St. Dionysius, and, later, it assumed the name 
of Wrangell, the prefix of Fort being added during 
the time that the United States garrisoned it with 
two companies of the 21st Infantry. The Govern- 
ment began building a new stockade fort there imme- 
diately after the transfer of the territory in 1867, and 
troops occupied it until 1870, when they were with- 
drawn, the post abandoned, and the property sold for 
^500. The discovery of the Cassiar gold mines on 
the head waters of the Stikine River in 1874 sent a 
tide of wild life into the deserted street of Fort 
Wrangell, and the military were ordered back in 
1875 and remained until 1877, when General How- 
ard drew off his forces, and the government finally 
recalled the troops from all the posts in Alaska. 

During the second occupation of the barracks and 
quarters at Fort Wrangell, the War Department helped 
itself to the property, and, assigning a nominal sura 

48 souriuaiN Alaska. 

for rent, held the fort against the protest of the owner. 
The Cassiar mines were booming then, and Fort 
Wrangell took on something of the excitement of a 
mining town itself, and being at the head of ocean 
navigation, where all merchandise had to be trans- 
ferred to small steamers and canoes, rents for stores 
and warehouses were extravagantly high. Every shed 
could bring a fabulous price. The unhappy owner, 
who rejoices in the euphonious name of W. King 
Lear, could only gnash his teeth and violently pro- 
test against the monthly warrants and vouchers given 
him by the commandant of the post. Since the 
troops have gone, the Government has done other 
strange things with the property that it once sold in 
due form, and Mr. Lear has a just and plain claim 
against the War Department for damages. The bar- 
racks and hospital of the old fort are now occupied by 
the Presbyterian Mission. No alteration, repairs, or 
improvements having been made for many years, the 
stockade is gradually becoming more ruinous, weather- 
worn, and picturesque each year, and the overhang- 
ing block-house at one corner is already a most 
sketchable bit of bleached and lichen-covered logs. 
The main street of Fort Wrangell, untouched by 
the hoof of horse or mule for these many years, is a 
wandering grass-grown lane that straggles along for 
a few hundred feet from the fort gate and ends in a 
foot-path along the beach. The ''Miners' Palace 
Restaurant," and other high-sounding signs, remain 
as relics of the livelier days, and listless Indian 
women sit in rows and groups on the unpainted 
porches of the trading stores. They are a quiet, 
rather languid lot of klootchmans^ slow and deliberate 



of speech, and not at all clamorous for customers, as 
they squat or lie face downward, like so many seals, 
before their baskets of wild berries. In the stores, 
the curio departments are well stocked with elabo- 
rately carved spoons made of the black horns of the 
mountain goat ; with curiously-fashioned halibut hooks 
and halibut clubs; with carved wooden trays and 
bowls, in which oil, fish, berries, and food have been 
mixed for years ; with stone pipes and implements 
handed down from that early age, and separate store- 
rooms are filled with the skins of bears, foxes, squir- 
rels, mink, and marten that are staple articles of trade. 
Occasionally there can be found fine specimens of a 
gray mica slate set full of big garnet crystals, like 
plums in a pudding, or sprinkled through with finer 
garnets that show points of brilliancy and fine color. 
This stone is found on the banks of a small creek near 
the mouth of the Stikine River, and great slabs of it 
are blasted off and brought to Fort Wrangell by the 
boat-load to be broken up into small cabinet specimens 
in time for the tourist season each summer. None of 
the garnets are clear or perfect, and the blasting fills 
them with seams and flaws. The best silver bracelets 
at Fort Wrangell are made by a lame Indian, who 
as the chief artificer and silversmith of the tribe has 
quite a local reputation. His bracelets are beauti- 
fully chased and decorated, but unfortunately for the 
integrity of Stikine art traditions, he has given up 
carving the emblematic beasts of native heraldry on 
heavy barbaric wristlets, and now only makes the 
most slender bangles, adapted from the models in an 
illustrated jeweller's catalogue that some Philistine 
has sent him. Worse yet, he copies the civilized 


spread eagle from the half-dollar, and, one can only 
shake his head sadly to see Stikine art so corrupted 
and debased. For all this, the lame man cannot 
make bracelets fast enough to supply the market, 
and at three dollars a pair for the narrower ones he 
pockets great profits "during the steamer days. 

On the water side of the main street there is a 
queer old flat-bottomed river-boat, stranded high and 
dry, that in its day made ^135,000 clear each sea- 
son that it went up the Stikine. It enriched its 
owner while in the water, and after it went ashore 
was a profitable venture as a hotel. This Rudder 
Grange, built over from stem to stern, and green 
with moss, is so settled into the grass and earth that 
only the shape of the bow and the empty box of the 
stern wheel really declare its original purpcse. There 
is a bakeshop in the old engine-room, and for the 
rest it is the Chinatown of Fort Wrangell. A small 
cinnamon-bear cub gambolled in the street before this 
boat-house, and it stood on its hind legs and sniffed 
the air curiously when it saw the captain of the ship 
coming down the street, bestowing sticks of candy on 
every child in the way. Bruin came in for his share, 
and formed the centre for a group that watched him 
chew up mint sticks and pick his teeth with his sharp 
little claws. 

The houses of the Indian village string along the 
beach in a disconnected way, all of them low and 
square, built of raugh hewn cedar and pine planks, and 
roofed over with large planks resting on heavy log 
beams. One door gives entrance to an interior, often 
twenty and forty feet square, and several families live 
in one of these houses, sharing the same fireplace in 


the centre, and keeping peacefully to their own sides 
and corners of the common habitation. Heraldic de- 
vices in outline sometimes ornament the gable front 
of the house, but no paint is wasted on the interior, 
where smoke darkens everything, the drying salmon 
drip grease from the frames overhead, and dogs and 
children tumble carelessly around the fire and over 
the pots and saucepans. The entrances have some- 
times civilized doors on hinges, but the aborigine 
fashion is a portUre of sealskin or walrus hide, or of 
woven grass mats. When one of the occupants of 
a house dies he is never taken out by the door where 
the others enter, but a plank is torn off at the back 
or side, or the body is hoisted out through the smoke 
hole in the roof, to keep the spirits away. 

Before many of the houses are tall cedar posts and 
poles, carved with faces of men and beasts, repre- 
senting events in their genealogy and mythology. 
These tall totems are the shrines and show places 
of Fort Wrangell, and on seeing them all the ship's 
company made the hopeless plunge into Thlinket 
mythology and there floundered aimlessly until the 
end of the trip. There is nothing more flexible or 
susceptible of interpretations than Indian traditions, 
and the Siwash himself enjoys nothing so much as 
misleading and fooling the curious white man in 
these matters. The truth about these totems and 
their carvings never will be quite known until their 
innate humor is civilized out of the natives, but 
meanwhile the white man vexes himself with ethnolo- 
gical theories and suppositions. These totems are for 
the most part picture writings that tell a plain story 
to every Siwash, and record the great events in the 


history of the man who erects them. They are only 
erected by the wealthy and powerful members of the 
tribe, and the cost of carving a cedar log fifty feet 
long, and the attendant feasts and ceremonies of the 
raising, bring their value, according to Indian esti- 
mates, up to one thousand and two thousand dol- 
lars. The subdivisions of each tribe into distinct 
families that take for their crest the crow, the bear, 
the eagle, the whale, the wolf, and the fox, give to 
each of these sculptured devices its great meaning. 
The totems show by their successive carvings the 
descent and alliances of the great families, and the 
great facts and incidents of their history. The rep- 
resentations of these heraldic beasts and birds are 
conventionalized after certain fixed rules of their art, 
and the grotesque heads of men and animals are 
highly colored according to other set laws and limi- 
tations. Descent is counted on the female side, and 
the first emblem at the top of the totem is that of 
the builder, and next that of the great family from 
which he is descended through his mother. 

In some cases two totem poles are erected before a 
house, one to show the descent on the female side, 
and one to give the generations of the male side, and a 
pair of these poles was explained for us by one of the 
residents of Fort Wrangell, who has given some study 
to these matters. The genealogical column of the 
mother's side has at the top the eagle, the great totem 
or crest of the family to which she belonged. Below 
the eagle is the image of a child, and below that the 
beaver, the frog, the eagle, the frog, and the frog for 
a third time, show the generations and the sub- 
families of the female side. By some interpreters 



the frog is believed to indicate a pestilence or some 
great disaster, but others maintain that it is the 
recognized crest of one of the sub-families. The 
male totem pole has at the top the image of the chief, 


wearing his conical hat, below that his great totem, 
the crow. Succeeding the crow is the image of a 
child, then three frogs, and at the base of the 
column the eagle, the great tote7n of the builder's 


In front of one chiefs house a very natural-looking 
bear is crouched on the top of a pole, gazing down at 
his black foot-tracks, which are carved on the sides 
of the column. A crossbeam resting on posts near 
this same house used to show three frogs sitting in 
line, and other grotesque fantasies are scattered about 
the village. With the advance of civilization the 
Indians are losing their reverence for these heraldic 
monuments, and some have been destroyed and others 
sold; for the richest of these natives are so mercenary 
that they do not scruple to sell anything that belongs 
to them. The disappearance of the totem poles 
would rob these villages of their greatest interest for 
the tourists, and the ethnologist who would solve the 
mysteries and read the pictures finally aright, should 
hasten to this rich and neglected field. 

In their mythology, which, as now known, is sadly 
involved through the medium of so many incorrect 
and perverted explanations, the crow or raven stands 
supreme as the creator and the first of all created 
things. He made everything, and all life comes from 
him. After he had made the world, he created woman 
and then man, making her supreme as representative 
of the crow family, while man, created last, is the head 
of the wolf or warrior's family. From them sprang 
the sub-families of the whale, the bear, the eagle, the 
beaver, and the frog. The Stikine Indians have a 
tradition of the deluge, in which the chosen pair were 
given the shape of crows until the water had sub- 
sided, when they again returned to the earth and 
peopled it with their descendants. No alliances are 
ever made within the great families, and a crow never 
marries a crow, but rather a member of the whale, 



bear, or wolf families. The man takes the totem of 
his wife's family, and fights with them when the 
great family feuds arise in the tribe. 

On many of the totem poles the chiefs are repre- 
sented as wearing tall, conical hats, similar to those 
worn by certain classes in China, and this fact has 
been assumed by many ardent ethnologists to give 
certain proof of the oriental origin of these people, 
and their emigration by way of Behring's Straits. 
Others explain the storied hats piled one on top of 
another, as indicating the number of potlatches^ or 
great feasts, that the builder has given. Over the 
graves of the dead, which are square log boxes or 
houses, they put full-length representations of the 
dead man's totemic beast, or smooth poles finished 
at the top with the family crest. One old chief's 
tomb at Fort Wrangell has a very realistic whale 
on its moss-grown roof, another a bear, and another 
an otter. The Indians cremated their dead until the 
arrival of the missionaries, who have steadily opposed 
the practice. The Indian's idea of a hell of ice made 
him reason that he who was buried in the earth or 
the sea would be cold forever after, while he whose 
ashes were burned would be warm and comfortable 
throughout eternity. 

These Thlinket Indians of the coast have broad 
heavy faces, small eyes, and anything but quickness or 
intelligence in their expression. They are slow and 
deliberate in speech, lingering on and emphasizing 
each aspirate and guttural, and any theories as to a 
fish diet promoting the activity, of the brain are 
dispersed after watching these salmon-fed natives for 
a few weeks. Many of their customs are such a 


travesty and burlesque on our civilized ways as to 
show that the same principles and motives underlie 
all human action. When those expensive trophies of 
decorative art, the toUm poles, are raised, the event 
is celebrated by the whole tribe. A common Indian 
can raise himself to distinction and nobility by giving 
many feasts and setting up a pole to commemorate 
them. After he owns a ^oUm pole he can aspire to 
greater eminence. That man is considered the 
richest who gives most away, and at the great feasts 
QT potlatches that accompany a house-warming or pole- 
raising, they nearly beggar themselves. All the 
delicacies of the Alaska market are provided by the 
canoe-full, and the guests sit around the canoes and 
dip their ancestral spoons into the various com- 
pounded dishes. Blankets, calico, and money are 
distributed as souvenirs on the same principle as 
costly favors are given for the German. His rank 
and riches increase in exact ratio as he tears up and 
gives away his blankets and belongings ; and the 
Thlinket has satisfied pride to console himself with 
while he struggles through the hard times that follow 
a pot latch. 

In the summer season Fort Wrangell is a peaceful, 
quiet place ; the climate is a soothing one, and Prof. 
Muir extolled the " poultice-like atmosphere " which 
so calms the senses. The Indians begin to scatter 
on their annual fishing trips in June, and come back 
with their winter supplies of salmon in the early fall. 
Many of the houses were locked or boarded up, while 
the owners had gone away to spend the summer at 
some other watering-place. One absentee left this 
notice on his front door : — 




Over another locked door was this name and legend, 
which combines a well-witnessed and legal testament, 
together with the conventional door-plate of the 
white man : — 


Let all that read know that I 

Am a friend to the whites. Let 


One molest this house. In case 



Death it belongs to my wife. 

Thus wrote Anatlash, a man of tall totems and 
many blankets ; and stanzas in blank verse after the 
same manner decorated the doorway of many Thlin- 
ket abodes. 

The family groups within the houses were as inter- 
esting and picturesque as the totem poles without ; 
and strangers were free to enter without formality, 
and study the ways of the best native society with- 
out hindrance. These people nearly all wear civilized 
garments, and in the baronial halls of Fort Wrangell 
there are imposing heaps of red-covered and brass- 
bound trunks that contain stores of blankets, festal 
garments, and family treasures. In all the houses the 
Indians went right on with their breakfasts and do- 
mestic duties regardless of our presence ; and the 


white visitors made themselves at home, scrutinized 
and turned over everything they saw with an effron- 
tery that would be resented, if indulged in in kind 
by the Indians. The women had the shrewdest eye 
to money-making, and tried to sell ancient and 
greasy baskets and broken spoons when they had 
nothing else in the curio line. In one house two 
giggling damsels were playing on an accordeon when 
we entered, but stopped and hid their heads in their 
blankets at sight of us. An old gentleman, in a 
single abbreviated garment, crouched by the fireside, 
frying a dark and suspicious-looking dough in seal 
oil ; and the coolness and self-possession with which 
he rose and stepped about his habitation were admira- 
ble. He was a grizzled and surly-looking old fellow, 
but from the number of trunks and fur robes piled 
around the walls, he was evidently a man of wealth, 
and his airy costume rather a matter of taste than 
economy. Many of the men showed us buckskin 
pouches containing little six-inch sticks of polished 
cedar that they use in their great social games. These 
gambling sticks are distinguished by different mark- 
ings in red and black lines, and the game consists in 
one man taking a handful, shuffling them around under 
his blanket, and making the others guess the marks 
of the first stick drawn out. These Indians are 
great gamblers, and they spend hours and days at 
their fascinating games. They shuffle the sticks to 
see who shall go out to cut and gather firewood in 
winter, and if a man is seen crawling out after an 
armful of logs, his neighbors shout with derision at 
him as a loser. 

In addition to their silver bracelets, their silver ear- 



rings and finger rings, many of the women keep up the 
old custom of wearing nose rings and lip rings, that no 


amount of missionary and catechism, seemingly, can 
break them of. The lip rings used to be worn by all 
but slaves, and the three kinds worn by the women 
of all the island tribes are marks of age that take the 
place of family records. When a young girl reaches 
marriageable age, a long, flat-headed silver pin, an 
inch in length, is thrust through the lower lip. After 
the marriage festival the Thlinket dame assumes a 


bone or ivory button a quarter or half inch across. 
This matronly badge is a mere collar-button com- 
pared to the two-inch plugs of wood that they wear 
in their under lips when they reach the sere and 
yellow leaf of existence. This big labrette ^ives the 


last touch of hideousness to the wrinkled and blear- 
eyed old women that one finds wearing them, and it 
was from the Russian name for this trough in the 
lip — kolosh — that all the tribes of the archipelago 
were known as Koloshians, as distinguished from the 
Aleuts, the Innuits, and Esquimaux of the north- 

Far less picturesque than the natives in their own 
houses were the little Indian girls at the mission- 
school in the old fort. Combed, cleaned, and mar- 
shalled in stiff rows to recite, sing, and go through 
calisthenic exercises, they were not nearly so strik- 
ing for studies and sketches aboriginal, but more 
hopeful to contemplate as fellow-beings. Clah, a 
Christianized Indian from Fort Simpson, B. C, was 
the first to attempt mission work among the In- 
dians at Fort Wrangell. In 1877 Mrs. McFarland 
was sent out by the Presbyterian Board of Missions, 
after years of mission work in Colorado and the west, 
and, taking Clah on her staff, she labored untiringly 
to establish the school and open the home for Indian 
girls. Others have joined her in the work at Fort 
Wrangell, and everyone on the coast testifies to good 
results already attained by her labors and example. 
She is known and reverenced among all the tribes, 
and the Indians trust in her implicitly, and go to her 
for advice and aid in every emergency. With the 
establishment of the new industrial mission-school at 
Sitka, Mrs. McFarland will be transferred to the 
girls' department of that institution. The Rev. Hall 
Young and his wife have devoted themselves to the 
good cause at Fort Wrangell, and will continue there 
in charge of the church and school. The Presby- 



terian missions have the strongest hold on the coast, 
and the Catholics, who built a church at Fort Wran- 
gell, have given up the mission there, and the priest 
from Nanaimo makes only occasional visits to his 
dusky parishioners. 

The steep hillside back of Fort Wrangell was 
cleared of timber during military occupancy, and on 
the lower slopes the companies had fine gardens, 
which remain as wild overgrown meadows now. In 
them the wild timothy grows six feet high, the blue- 
berry bushes are loaded with fruit, salmon berries 
show their gorgeous clusters of gold and scarlet, and 
the white clover grows on long stems and reaches to 
a fulness and perfection one can never imagine. This 
Wrangell clover is the common clover of the East 
looked at through a magnifying glass, each blossom 
as large and wide-spread as a double carnation pink, 
and the fragrance has a strong spicy quality with its 
sweetness. The red clover is not common, but the 
occasional tops are of the deepest pink that these 
huge clover blossoms can wear. While the hillside 
looked cleared, there was a deep and tangled thicket 
under foot, the moss, vines, and runners forming a 
network that it took some skill to penetrate ; but 
the view of the curved beach, the placid channel 
sleeping in the warm summer sunshine like a great 
mountain lake, and the ragged peaks of the snowy 
range showing through every notch and gap, well 
repaid the climb through it. It was a most perfect 
day when we climbed the ridge, the air as warm and 
mellow as Indian summer, with even its soft haze 
hung round the mountain walls in the afternoon, and 
from those superior heights we gazed in ecstasy on 


the scene and pitied all the people who know not 

When Professor Muir was at Fort Wrangell one 
autumn, he climbed to the summit of this first moun- 
tain on a stormy night to listen to the fierce music of 
the winds in the forest. Just over the ridge he found 
a little hollow, and gathering a few twigs and 
branches he started a fire that he gradually increased 
to quite a blaze. The wind howled and roared 
through the forest, and the scientist enjoyed himself 
to the utmost ; but down in the village the Indians 
were terrified at the glow that illuminated the sky 
and the tree-tops. No one could explain the phe- 
nomenon, as they could not guess that it was Professor 
Muir warming himself during his nocturnal ramble 
in the forest, and it was with difficulty that the 
minister and the teachers at the mission could calm 
the frightened Indians. 

On a second visit to Fort Wrangell on the Idaho, 
there was the same warm, lazy sunshine and soft still 
air, and as connoisseurs we could the better appreciate 
the fine carvings and ornamental work of these aes- 
thetic people, who decorate every household utensil 
with their symbols of the beautiful. Mr. Lear, or 
" King Lear," welcomed us back to his comfortable 
porch, and as a special mark brought forth his great 
horn spoon, a work of the highest art, and a bit of 
bric-a-brac that cost its possessor some four hundred 
dollars. Mr. Lear is that famous man, who "swears 
by the great horn spoon," and this elaborately carved 
spoon, made from the clear, amber-tinted horn of the 
musk ox, is more than eighteen inches long, with a 
smooth, graceful bowl that holds at least a pint. This 


spoon constituted the sole assets of a bankrupt debtor, 
who failed, owing Mr. Lear a large sum ; and the 
jocose trader first astonished us by saying that he 
had a carved spoon that cost him four hundred dollars. 
The amateur photographers on shipboard raved at 
sight of the beautiful amber spoon with its carved 
handle inlaid with abalone shell, and, rushing for 
their cameras, photographed it against a gay back- 
ground of Chilkat blankets. Mr. Lear has refused all 
offers to buy his great horn spoon, routing one per- 
sistent collector by assuring him that he must keep 
it to take his medicines in. 

The skies were as blue as fabled Italy when the 
Idaho " let go " from Fort Wrangell wharf that glori- 
ous afternoon, and we left with genuine regret. The 
Coast-Survey steamer Hassler came smoking around 
the point of an island just as we were leaving Fort 
Wrangell ; and our captain, who would rather lose bis 
dinner than miss a joke, fairly shook with laughter 
when he saw the frantic signals of the Hassler, and 
knew the tempestuous frame of mind its commander 
was working himself up to. After giving the Hassler 
sufficient scare and chase, the Idaho slowed up, and 
the mails that she had been carrying for three months 
were transferred to the Coast-Survey ship, while the 
skippers, who are close friends and inveterate jokers, 
exchanged stiff and conventional greetings, mild 
sarcasm, and dignified repartee from their respective 
bridges. The pranks that these nautical people play 
on one another in these out-of-the-way waters would 
astonish those who have seen them in dress uniforms 
and conventional surroundings, and such experiences 
rank among the unique side incidents of a trip. 


A boat-race of another kind rounded off the day of 
my third and last visit to Fort Wrangell, and the 
Indians who had been waiting for a week made ready 
for a regatta when the Ancon was sighted. It took 
several whistles from our impatient captain to get the 
long war-canoes manned and at the stake-boat ; and, 
in this particular, boat-races have some points in 
common the world round. Kadashaks, one of the 
Stikine chiefs, commanded one long canoe in which 
sixteen Indians sat on each side, and another chief 
rallied thirty-two followers for his war-canoe. It 
was a picturesque sight when the boatmen were all 
squatted in the long dug-outs, wearing white shirts, 
and colored handkerchiefs tied around their brows. 
While they waited, each canoe and its crew was 
reflected in the still waters that lay without a ripple 
around the starting-point near shore. When the 
cannon on the ship's deck gave the signal, the canoes 
shot forward like arrows, the broad paddles sending 
the water in great waves back of them, and dashing 
the spray high on either side. Kadashaks and the 
oth^r chief sat in the sterns to steer, and encouraged 
and urged on their crews with hoarse grunts and 
words of command, and the Indians, paddling as if 
for life, kept time in their strokes to a savage chant 
that rose to yells and war whoops when the two 
canoes fouled just off the stake-boat. It was a most 
exciting boat-race, and bets and enthusiasm ran high 
on the steamer's deck during its progress. The 
money that had been subscribed by the traders in 
the town was divided between the two crews, and 
at night there was a grand potlatch^ or feast, in honor 
of the regatta. 


The trade with the Cassiar mines at the head of the 
Stikine River once made Fort Wrangell an important 
place, but the rival boats that used to race on the 
river have gone below, and the region is nearly aban- 
doned. As early as 1862 the miners found gold dust 
in the bars near the mouth of the river ; but it was 
twelve years later before Thibert and another trapper, 
crossing from Minnesota, found the gold fields and 
quartz veins at the head-waters of the stream, three 
hundred miles distant from Fort Wrangell, within the 
British Columbia lines. Immediately the army of 
gold-seekers turned there, leaving California and 
the Frazer River mines, and in 1874 there were 
two thousand miners on the ground, and the yield 
was known to have been over one million dollars. 
Light-draught, stern-wheel steamers were put on the 
river, and the goods and miners transferred from 
ocean steamers at Fort Wrangell were taken to 
Glenora at the head of navigation, one hundred and 
fifty miles from the mouth. From that point there 
was a steep mountain trail of another one hundred 
and fifty miles, and pack trains of mules carried 
freight on to the diggings. Freights from Fort 
Wrangell to the mines ranged at times from twenty 
to eighty and one hundred and sixty dollars per ton J 
and in consequence, when the placers were exhausted, 
and machinery was necessary to work the quartz 
veins, the region was abandoned. 

The official returns as given by the British Colum- 
bia commissioners are not at hand for all of the years 
since the discovery of these mines, but for the seven 
years here given they show the great decrease in the 
bullion yield of the Cassiar fields : — 


Number of Gold 

Years. miners. product. 

1874 2,000 $1,000,000 

1875 800 1,000,000 

1876 1,500 556,474 

1877 1,200 499,830 

1879 1,800 

1883 1,000 135,000 

During this year of 1884 the steamers have been 
taken off the river, and Indian canoes are the only 
means of transportation. There are few besides Chi- 
namen left to work the exhausted fields, and another 
year will probably find them in sole possession. 
While the mines were at their best, Fort Wrangell 
was the great point of outfitting and departure ; and 
after the troops were withdrawn, the miners made it 
more and more a place of drunken and sociable hiber- 
nation, when the severe weather of the interior drove 
them down the river. They congregated in greatest 
numbers early in the spring, many going up on the 
ice in February or March, before the river opened ; 
although no mining could be done until May, and the 
water froze in the sluices in September. 

The Cassiar mines being in British Columbia, the 
rush of trade on the Stikine River caused many com- 
plications and infractions of the revenue laws of both 
countries, and great license was allowed. The exact 
position where the boundary line crosses the Stikine 
has not yet been determined by the two govern- 
ments, and in times past it has wavered like the iso- 
thermal lines of the coast. The diggings at Shucks, 
seventy miles from Fort Wrangell, were at one time 
in Alaska and next time in British Columbia ; and the 
Hudson Bay Company's post, and even the British 


custom house, were for a long time on United States 
soil before being removed beyond the debatable re- 
gion. The boundary, as now accepted temporarily, 
crosses the river sixty-five miles from Fort Wrangell 
at a distance of ten marine leagues from the sea in a 
direct line, and, intersecting the grave of a British 
miner, leaves his bones divided between the two 
countries ; his heart in the one, and the boots in 
which he died in the other. 

Vancouver failed to discover the Stikine on his 
cruise up the continental shore^ and, deceived by the 
shoal waters, passed by the mouth. It then remained 
for the American sloop Degon, Captain Cleveland, to 
visit the delta and learn of the great river from the 
natives in 1799. The scenery of the Stikine River 
is the most wonderful in this region, and Prof. John 
Muir, the great geologist of the Pacific coast, epito- 
mized the valley of the Stikine as " a Yosemite one 
hundred miles long." The current of the river is so 
strong that while it takes a boat three days at full 
steam to get from Fort Wrangell up to Glenora, the 
trip back can be made in eight or twelve hours, with 
the paddle-wheel reversed most of the time, to hold 
the boat back in its wild flight down stream. It is a 
most dangerous piece of river navigation, and there 
have been innumerable accidents to steamboats and 

Three hundred great glaciers are known to drain 
into the Stikine, and one hundred and one can be 
counted from the steamer's deck while going up to 
Glenora. The first great glacier comes down to the 
river at a place forty miles above Fort Wrangell, and 
fronting for seven miles on a low moraine along the 


river bank, is faced on the opposite side by a smaller 
glacier. There is an Indian tradition to the effect 
that these two glaciers were once united, and the 
river ran through in an arched tunnel. To find out 
whether it led out to the sea, the Indians determined 
to send two of their number through the tunnel, 
and with fine Indian logic they chose the oldest 
members of their tribe to make the perilous voyage 
into the ice mountain, arguing that they might die 
very soon anyhow. The venerable Indians shot the 
tunnel, and, returning with the great news of a clear 
passageway to the sea, were held in the highest es- 
teem forever after. This great glacier is from five 
hundred to seven hundred feet high on the front, and 
extends back for many miles into the mountains, its 
surface broken and seamed with deep crevices. Two 
young Russian officers once went down from Sitka 
to explore this glacier to its source, but never re- 
turned from the ice kingdom into which they so 
rashly ventured. Further up, at a sharp bend of the 
river called the Devil's Elbow, there is the mud 
glacier, which has a width of three miles and a height 
of two hundred or three hundred feet where it faces 
the river from behind its moraine. Beyond this 
dirt-covered, boulder-strewn glacier, there is the 
Grand Canon of the Stikine, a narrow gorge two 
hundred feet long and one hundred feet wide, into 
which the boiling current of the river is forced, and 
where the steamboats used to struggle at full steam 
for half an hour before they emerged from the per- 
pendicular walls of that frightful defile. A smaller 
canon near it is called the Klootchinans^ or Woman's 
Canon, the noble red man being always so exhausted 


by poling, paddling, and tracking his canoe through 
the Grand Canon as to leave the navigation of the 
second one entirely to his wife. The Big Riffle, or 
the Stikine Rapids, is the last of these most danger- 
ous places in the river; and at about this point, where 
the summit line of the mountain range crosses the 
river, the mythical boundary line is supposed to lie. 
The country opens out then into more level stretches, 
and at Glenora and Telegraph Creek, the steamboats 
leave their cargoes and start on the wild sweep down 
the river to Fort Wrangell again. As the boats are 
no longer running on the river, future voyagers who 
wish to see the stupendous scenery of this region 
will have to depend on the Indian canoes that take 
ten days for the journey up, or else feast and satisfy 
their imaginations with the thrilling tales of the old 
Stikine days that can be picked up on every hand, 
and study the topography of the region from the 
maps of Prof. Blake. 




IF there were not so many more wonderful places 
in Alaska, Wrangell Narrows would give it a 
scenic fame, and make its fortune in the coming 
centuries when tourists and yachts will crowd these 
waters, and poets and seafaring novelists desert the 
Scotch coast for these northwestern isles. Instead 
of William Black's everlasting Oban, and Staffa, and 
Skye, and heroines with a burr in their speech, we 
will read of Kasa-an and Kaigan, Taku and Chilkat, 
and maidens who lisp in soft accents the deep, gur- 
gling Chinook, or the older dialects of their races. 
Wrangell Narrows is a sinuous channel between 
mountainous islands, and for thirty miles it is hard to 
determine which one of the perpendicular walls at the 
end of the strait will finally stop us with its impassa- 
ble front. There are dangerous ledges and rocks, 
and strong tides rushing through this pass, and the 
average depth of from four to twelve fathoms is very 
shallow water for Alaska. Although long known and 
used by the Indians and the Hudson Bay Company's 
traders, it was not considered a safe inside passage ; 
and as Vancouver had not explored it, and there were 
not any complete charts, it was little traversed by 
regular commerce. After United States occupation, 


and the increased travel to Sitka, the perils of Cape 
Ommaney, off the south end of Baranoff Island, quite 
matched any dangers there might be in the unknown 
channel. Captain R. W. Meade, in command of the 
U. S. S. SaginaWy made a survey of the Narrows 
in 1869, and gradually the way through the ledges 
and flats and tide rips became better known. In 
1884 Captain Coghlan, commander of the U. S. S. 
Adams carefully sounded and marked off the channel 
with stakes and buoys, and the navigators now only 
look for the favorable turn of the tide in going 
through the picturesque reaches. 

Leaving Fort Wrangell in the afternoon, it was an 
enchanting trip up that narrow channel of deep 
waters, rippling between bold island shores and paral- 
lel mountain walls. Besides the clear, emerald tide, 
reflecting every tree and rock, there was the beauty 
of foaming cataracts leaping down the sides of snow- 
capped mountains, and the grandeur of great glaciers 
pushing down through sharp ravines, and dropping 
miniature icebergs into the water. Three glaciers 
are visible at once on the east side of the Narrows, 
the larger one extending back some forty miles, and 
measuring four miles across the front, that faces the 
water and the terminal moraine it has built up before 
it. The great glacier is known as Patterson Glacier, 
in honor of the late Carlisle Patterson, of the United 
States Coast Survey, and is the first in the great line 
of glaciers that one encounters along the Alaska coast. 
Under the shadow of a cloud the glacier was a dirty 
and uneven snow field, but touched by the last light 
of the sun it was a frozen lake of wonderland, shim- 
mering with silvery lights, and showing a pale ethe- 


real green, and deep, pure blue, in all the rifts and 
crevasses in its icy front. 

With the appearance of this first glacier, and the 
presence of ice floating in the waters around us, the 
conversation of all on board took a scientific turn, 
and facts, fancies, and wild theories about glacial 
origin and action were advanced that would have 
struck panic to any body of geologists. Being all 
laymen, there was no one to expound the mysteries 
and speak with final authority on any of these frozen 
and well-established truths ; and we floundered about 
in a sea of suppositions, and were lost in a labyrinth 
of lame conclusions. 

A long chain of snow-capped mountains slowly 
unrolled as the ship emerged from Wrangell Nar- 
rows, more glaciers were brought to view, and that 
strange granite monument, the " Devil's Thumb," as 
named by Commander Meade, signalled us from a 
mountain top. 

Farther up, in Stephens Passage, floating ice tells 
of the great glaciers in Holkam or Soundoun Bay, 
and beside the one great Soundoun glacier flowing 
into the sea, there are three other glaciers hidden 
in the high-walled fiords that open from the bay. 
One of the first and most adventurous visitors to the 
Soundoun glacier was Captain J. W. White, of the 
Revenue Marine, who anchored the cutter Lincoln in 
the bay in 1868, Seeing a great arch or tunnel in the 
front of the glacier, he had his men row the small 
boat into the deep blue grotto, and they went a hun- 
dred feet down a crystalhne corridor whose roof was 
a thousand feet thick. The colors, he said, were mar- 
vellous, and, like the galleries cut in the Alpine gla- 


ciers, showed fresh wonders with each advance. At 
the furthest point the adventurous boatmen poured 
out libations and drank to the spirits of the ice king- 
dom. In 1876 gold was discovered, and the Soun- 
doun placers were the first ones worked in Alaska. 
Professor Muir visited the glacier and mines of Soun- 
doun Bay in 1879, ^^^ ^^ Shough, a camp in a valley 
at the head of the inlet, found miners at work with 
their primitive rockers and sluices. In 1880 these 
mines yielded ^10,000, and the miners believed the 
bed of gold-bearing gravel inexhaustible. The dis- 
covery of gold at Juneau drew the most of them 
away, and the Soundoun placers have hardly been 
heard of in later years. 

Winding north, through a broad channel with 
noble mountain ranges on either side, we passed the 
old Hudson Bay Company's trading post of Taku, 
and at mention of this name those who believe in the 
Asiatic origin of the Alaska Indians cried out in 
delighted surprise : " There is a Chinese city of the 
same name and spelled in the same way as this — 

Reaching the mouth of Taku Inlet, into which the 
Taku River empties, the floating ice gave evidence of 
the great glaciers that lie within ; and, following up 
this fiord for about fifteen miles to a great basin, we 
came suddenly in sight of three glaciers. One sloped 
down a steep and rather narrow ravine, and its front 
was hidden by another turn in the overlapping hills. 
The second one pushed down between two high 
mountains, and, resting its tongue on the water, 
dropped off the icebergs and cakes that covered 
the surface of the dull, gray-green water. The front 


of this icy cliff stretched entirely across the half-mile 
gap between the mountains, and its face rose a hun- 
dred and two hundred feet from the water, every foot 
of it seamed, jagged, and rent with great fissures, in 
which the palest prismatic hues were flashing. As 
the tide fell, large pieces fell from this front, and ava- 
lanches of ice-fragments crashed down into the sea and 
raised waves that rocked our ship and set the ice- 
floes grinding together. On the other point of the 
crescent of this bay there lay the largest glacier, an 
ice-field that swept down from two mountain gorges, 
and, spreading out in fan shape, descended in a long 
slope to a moraine of sand, pebbles, and boulders. 
Across its rolling front this glacier measured at least 
three miles, and the low, level moraine was one mile 
in width. The moraine's slope was so gradual that 
when the small boats were lowered and we started 
for shore, they grounded one hundred feet from the 
water-mark and there stuck until the passengers were 
taken off one by one in the lightest boat, and then 
carried over the last twenty feet of water in the 
sailors' arms. It was a time for old clothes, to begin 
with, and everyone wore their worst when they 
started off; but at the finish, when the same set 
waded through a quarter of a mile of sand and min- 
eral mud left exposed by the falling tide, and were 
dumped into the boats by the sailors, a near relative 
would not have owned one of us. The landing of the 
glacier pilgrims was a scene worthy of the nimblest 
caricaturist, and sympathy welled up for the poor 
officers and sailors who shouldered stout men and 
women and struggled ashore through sinking mud 
and water. The burly captain picked out the slight- 


est young girl and carried her ashore like a doll ; but 
the second officer, deceived by the hollow eyes of one 
tall woman, lifted her up gallantly, floundered for a 
while in the mud and the awful surprise of her weight, 
and then bearer and burden took a headlong plunge. 
The newly-married man carried his bride off on his 
back, and had that novel incident to put down in the 
voluminous journal of the honeymoon kept by the 
young couple. 

We trailed along in files, like so many ants, across 
the sandy moraine, sinking in the soft "mountain 
meal," stumbling over acres of smooth rocks and 
pebbles, and jumping shallow streams that wandered 
down from the melting ice. Patches of epilobium 
crimsoned the ground with rank blossoms near the 
base of the glacier, and at last we began ascending 
the dull, dirty, gray ice hills. 

There was a wonderful stillness in the air, and the 
clear, sunny, blue sky brooded peacefully over the won- 
derful scene. The crunching of the footsteps on the 
rough ice could be heard a long way, and from every 
crevice came the rumble and roar of the streams 
under the ice. Rising five hundred feet or more by 
a gradual incline of half a mile, we were as far from 
seeing the source of the glacier as ever ; and the vast 
snow-fields from which the streams of ice emerge were 
still hidden by the spurs of the mountain round which 
they poured. At that point there were some deep 
crevasses in the ice, and leaning over we looked down 
into the bottomless rifts. The young Catholic priest, 
forgetting everything in the ardor of the moment and 
the ice-fever, labored like a giant, hurling vast bould- 
ers into the depths, that we might hear the repeated 


crashes as they struck from side to side, before the 
splash told that they had reached the subterranean 
river that roared so fiercely. In the outer sunshine 
the ice sparkled like broken bits of silver, but in the 
crevasses the colors were intensified from the palest 
ice-green to a deeper and deeper blue that was lost 
in shadowy purple at the last point. The travel- 
lers who had learned their glaciers in Switzerland sat 
amazed at the view before them, and owned that the 
glacier on which they were sitting was much larger 
and more broken than the Mer de Glace, while noth- 
ing in the Alps could equal the smaller glacier be- 
yond, that lay glittering like a great jewel-house and 
dropping bergs of beryl and sapphire into the sea. 

Where the two arms of the glacier united, the lines 
of converging ice-streams were marked by great trains 
of boulders and patches of dirt ; and fragments of 
quartz and granite, and iron-stained rocks were 
souvenirs that the pilgrims carried off by the pocket- 
ful. We sat on rough boulders and looked down into 
the ice-ravines on every side, and sighed breathlessly 
in the ecstasy of joy. An earthly and material soul 
roused the scorn of the young Catholic divine by 
sitting down in that exalted spot to eat — to munch 
soda crackers from a brown-paper bundle — while the 
wreck of glaciers, the crash of icebergs, the grinding 
of ice-floes, and world-building were going on about 

We ran down the glacier slopes hand in hand, in 
long lines that " snapped the whip " and went all- 
hands-round on the more level places, or crept in cau- 
tious file along the narrow ridges between crevasses. 
We drank from icy rills that ran in channels of clear 


green ice, and crossing the moraine, we waded through 
mud ankle deep and were carried to the boats. The 
receding tide had obliged the sailors to push the boats 
further and further off, and when one frail bark was 
about full there was a crash, an avalanche of ice went 
splashing into the sea from the smaller glacier up the 
bay, and a great wave curling from it washed 
the boat back and left it grounded. Men without 
rubber boots were then so well soaked and so 
plastered with glacier mud that they just stepped 
over the boat's side and helped the rubber-clad sailors 
float it off. The lower deck and the engine-room 
were hanging full and strewn with muddy boots and 
drying clothes all day, and the stewards were heard to 
wonder " what great fun there was in getting all 
their clothes spoiled, that the passengers need take 
on so over a glacier." 

When Vancouver went to the head of Taku Inlet in 
1794 he found "frozen mountains" surrounding it on 
every side, and his boats were so endangered by the 
floating ice, that his men gladly hurried away 
from it. Prospectors have had their camps at the 
mouth of the river at the head of the basin, and have 
searched the bars and shores of Taku River for miles 
across the mountain wall. Their evidence and that 
of the fur traders, who give scant notice to such 
things, prove the Indian traditions, that the ice is 
receding rapidly, and that the ice mountain that now 
sets back with a great moraine before it, came down 
to the water's edge in their fathers' days. 

That day on the Taku glacier will live forever as 
one of the rarest and most perfect enjoyment. The 
grandest objects in nature were before us, the prime- 


val forces that mould the face of the earth were at 
work, and it was all so far away and out of the every- 
day world that we might have been walking a new 
planet, fresh fallen from the Creator's hand. The 
lights and shadows on the hills, and the range of 
colors, were superb, — every tiny ice-cake in the water 
showing colors as rare and fleeting as the shades of 
an opal, while the gleaming ice-cliff, from which these 
jewels dropped, was aglow with all the prismatic lights 
and tinted in lines of deepest indigo in the great 
caverns and rifts of its front. The sunny, sparkling 
air was most exhilarating, and we sat on the after- 
deck basking in the golden rays of the afternoon sun, 
and looked back regretfully as the glaciers receded 
and were lost to sight by a turn in the fiord. 




TURNING north from the mouth of Taku Inlet, 
and running up Gastineaux Channel, we were 
between the steepest mountain walls that vegetation 
could cling to, and down all those verdant precipices 
poured foaming cascades from the snow-banks on the 
summits. This channel between the mainland shore 
and Douglass Island is less than a mile in width, and 
the mountains on the eastern shore rise to two 
thousand feet and more in their first uplift from the 
water's edge. The snowy summits of the ranges 
back of it reach twice that altitude, and are the same 
mountains that shelter the glaciers of the north 
shore of Taku Inlet. 

All of this Taku region is rich in the indications 
of precious minerals, and prospectors have explored 
miles of the most rugged mountain country in their 
search for float and gravel. The presence of gold 
along the shores of Taku River was long known, 
but the Taku Indians, who guarded the mouth of the 
river and kept the monopoly of the fur trade with the 
interior Indians, were known to be hostile and kept 
prospectors aloof. Prof. Muir found signs of gold 
in every stream in the territory, ground by and swept 


down from the higher ranges by the vast ice-sheet 
that once covered this region, and by the glaciers 
that are still at work in all the fiords and ravines. 
He believed that the great mineral vein extending 
up the coast from Mexico to British Columbia con- 
tinued through Alaska and into Siberia. With Brit- 
ish Columbian miners producing ^1,000,000 and 
;^2,ooo,ooo each year, and Siberia yielding its annual 
^22,000,000, Professor Muir was certain that Alaska 
would prove to be one of the rich gold fields of North 
America. In one of his letters to the San Francisco 
Bidletin in 1879, he gave it as his belief that the 
richest quartz leads would be found on the mainland 
shores east of Sitka, and that the true mineral belt 
followed the trend of the continental shores. A 
year later his prophecy was verified, and the present 
mining town of Juneau, a hundred miles north and 
east of Sitka in a direct line, promises soon to dis- 
tance the capital and become the most important 
town in the territory. 

The town of Juneau straggles along the beach 
and scatters itself after a broken, rectangular plan, 
up a ravine that opens to the water front. Lying at 
the foot of a vertical mountain-wall, with slender 
cascades rolling like silver ribbons from the clouds 
and snow-banks overhead, and sheltered in a curve of 
the still channel, Juneau has the most picturesque 
situation of any town on the coast. There were 
about fifty houses in 1884, and the place claimed be- 
tween three hundred and four hundred white inhabi- 
tants, with a village of Taku Indians on one side of 
the town, and Auk Indians on the other. The 
Northwest Trading Company has a large store at 


Juneau, and a barber's shop and the sign of " Rus- 
sian Baths, every Saturday, fifty cents," shows that 
the luxuries of civilization are creeping in. 

As a mining camp, this settlement dates back but a 
few years. In 1879 the Indians gave fine quartz 
specimens to the officers of the U. S. S. Jamestow7ij 
claiming to have found them on the shores of Gasti- 
neaux Channel. In the following summer a pros- 
pecting party was formed at Sitka, and left there 
headed by Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris. They 
camped on the present site of Juneau on Oct. i, 1880, 
and followed up the largest of three creeks emptying 
into the channel near that point. Three miles back 
on this Gold Creek in the Silver Bow Basin, they 
found rich placers and outcropping quartz ledges. 
When they returned to Sitka with their sacks of 
specimens, there was a stampede and a rush for the 
new El Dorado, and the camp, established in mid- 
winter, has since grown into a town. Harris took 
up a town site of one hundred and sixty acres, 
and in the spring of 1881 miners from British 
Columbia and from Arizona flocked to the new 

The place was first called Pilsbury, for one pros- 
pector; then Fliptown, as a miner's joke ; next Rock- 
well, for the officer of the U. S. S. Jamestown, who 
came down with a detachment of marines to keep 
the camp in order; fourthly it was named Harris- 
burg, and fifthly Juneau. This last name was for- 
mally adopted by the miners at a meeting held in 
May, 1882, and in the same conclave resolutions 
were passed ordering all Chinamen out of the district, 
and warning the race to stay away ; which they have 


done. At the same time the miners perfected an 
organization, elected a recorder, and adopted a code 
of laws which should be enforced until the United 
States should establish civil government and declare 
it a land district. Even with this volunteer attempt 
at law and order, the ownership of mining claims 
was uncertain, as they belonged to the-first and the 
strongest ones who began work in the spring. For 
want of a civil tribunal, miners' quarrels were settled 
by fists, shotguns, or an appeal to the man-of-war at 
Sitka. The whole town site and the Basin are staked 
off and claimed by three and four first owners, and 
lawsuits are impending over every piece of mining 
property. Without surveys, titles, or protection, the 
Juneau miners have done little more than the ne- 
cessary assessment work each year, although some 
of the placers have paid richly. With things in such 
an insecure state, capitalists were not willing to ven- 
ture anything in the development of these mines, and 
owners did little boasting of the richness of their 
lodes, lest more miscreants should be invited to 
jump their claims. The newly established district 
court, whose clerk is ex officio recorder of deeds, 
mortgages, and certificates of location of mining 
claims, will be overwhelmed with mining suits at its 
first sessions, and every claim will supply one or more 
cases for trial. 

It is very difficult to ascertain the exact amounts 
produced by these mines, although from ten to fifty 
thousand dollars in gold is sent down by each steamer 
during the summer months. To avoid the heavy 
express charges, many of the provident miners carry 
down their own hard earnings in the fall, and buckskin 


bags, tin cans, and bottles of gold dust are among the 
curios put in the purser's safe. As far as known, 
;^ 1 3 5,000 was washed from the placers in 1881, 
^^250,000 in 1882, and about ^400,000 in 1883. 

After the first season's stir Juneau experienced a 
slow and steady growth, and has not yet set up its 
pretensions to a " boom." There is a calm and quiet 
to the town that disappoints one who looks for the 
wild and untrammelled scenes of an incipient Lead- 
ville. The roving prospectors and the improvident 
miners gather at Juneau when the frosts and snows 
of winter drive them from the basins and valleys of 
the mainland, and in that season Juneau comes near- 
est to wearing the air of a mining town with the fever 
and delirium of a boom about to come on. Tales of 
fabulous riches are then current, and around the con- 
traband whiskey-bottle prospectors tell of finds that 
put Ormus and the Ind, Sierra Nevada and Little 
Pittsburg far behind. 

The first time that I visited Juneau it was getting 
a large instalment of its annual rainfall of nine feet,, 
and it was only by glimpses through the tattered 
edges of the clouds that one could see the slopes 
of the steep, green mountains, with the roaring cas- 
cades waving like snowy pennants against the forest 
screen. The ground was soaked and miry, and the 
least step from the gravelly beach or the plank walks 
plunged one ankle-deep in the black mud. Of the two 
beasts of burden in the town, the horse was busy 
hauling freight from the wharf, and the mule struck 
a melancholy pose beside an ancient schooner on the 
beach and refused to move. Depending upon such 
transportation, travel to the Basin mines was rather 



limited, and a few miners and Indians descending the 
steep trail from the forest, like Fra Diavolo in the 
first act, quite excited the fancy. After a contest 
with the best two hundred feet of the three miles of 
the steep yet miry trail, we were convinced that the 
mines would not pay on that drizzly afternoon. With 
the trees dripping around us and little rills running 
down on every side, it was rather paradoxical to have 
a wayfarer tell us that the miners were doing very 
little just then, for want of water. It was strange 
enough in a country of perpetual rain, with streams 
dropping down from eternal snows, that the system 
of reservoirs, ditches, and flumes should be incom- 
plete. A sociable miner, with his hands in his 
pockets as far as his elbows, engaged us in conver- 
sation on a street corner, and we surrounded him 
with a cordon of dripping umbrellas and listened to 
his apologies for the state of the weather, couched 
in many strange idioms. 

"We haven't any Indian agents, or constables, so 
there's never any trouble between us peaceable white 
men and the natives," said the miner. ''There's no 
caboose and no tax-collector; and as fish is plenty, 
it 's as good a place as any for a poor miner. Want 
of whiskey is the greatest drawback to the develop- 
ment of this country, and something will have to be 
done about it. Congress and them folks in Wash- 
ington don't pay much attention to us, but we had an 
earthquake a while ago, so the Lord ain't forgotten 
us, if the government has," said the friendly miner, 
with a solemn smile. He promised to bring some 
quartz specimens to the ship for the ladies ; but we 
never saw that friend again. 


The miners thus failing us in picturesqueness and 
thrilling incidents, the Indians came in for a full 
share of attention. One village wanders along the 
beach below the wharf, and the other settlement is 
hidden behind a knoll at the other side of the town. 
In the latter, Sitka Jack has a summer-house as well 
as at Fort Wrangell, but, instead of finding this 
potentate at home, his door was locked, and the 
neighbors said that he had gone up to Chilkat for 
the salmon fishing. On one of the largest houses in 
the village was the sign: "Klow-kek, Auke Chief." 
Over another doorway was written : 

" Jake is a good boy, a working man, 
Friend of the whites, and demands protection." 

The Indians came from both villages and huddled 
in groups on the wharf. Nearly all of them were 
barefooted, for those rich enough to afford shoes 
take them off and put them away when the ground is 
wet or muddy. They seemed quite unconscious of 
the weather, and, though unshod, were wrapped in 
blankets and in many cases carried umbrellas. The 
women and children tripped down in their bare 
feet, and sat around on the dripping wharf with a 
recklessness that suggested pneumonia, consumption, 
rheumatism, and all those kindred ills from which 
they suffer so severely. Nearly all the women had 
their faces blacked, and no one can imagine anything 
more frightful and sinister on a melancholy day than 


to be confronted by one of these silent, stealthy fig- 
ures, with the great circles of the whites of the eyes 
alone visible in the shadow of the blanket. A dozen 
fictitious reasons are given for this face-blacking. 
One Indian says that the widows and those who have 
suffered great sorrow wear the black in token thereof. 
Another native authority makes it a sign of happi- 
ness, while occasionally a giggling dame confesses 
that it is done to preserve the complexion. Ludi- 
crous as this may seem to the bleached Caucasian 
and the ladies of rice-powdered and enamelled coun- 
tenances, the matrons of high fashion and the swell 
damsels of the Thlinket tribes never make a canoe 
voyage without smearing themselves well with the 
black dye, that they get from a certain wild root of 
the woods, or with a paste of soot and seal oil. On 
sunny and windy days on shore they protect them- 
selves from tan and sunburn by this same inky coat- 
ing. On feast days and the great occasions, when 
they wash off the black, their complexions come out 
as fair and creamy white as the palest of their Japa- 
nese cousins across the water, and the women are 
then seen to be some six shades lighter than the tan- 
colored and coffee-colored lords of their tribe. The 
specimen women at Juneau wore a thin calico dress 
and a thick blue blanket. Her feet were bare, but 
she was compensated for that loss of gear by the 
turkey-red parasol that she poised over her head with 
all the complacency of a Mount Desert belle. She 
had blacked her face to the edge of her eyelids and 
the roots of her hair ; she wore the full parure of 
silver nose-ring, lip-ring, and ear-rings, with five 
silver bracelets on each wrist, and fifteen rings orna- 


meriting her bronze fingers ; and a more thoroughly 
proud and self-satisfied creature never arrayed herself 
according to the behests of high fashion. The chil- 
dren pattered around barefooted and wearing but a 
single short garment, although the day was as cold 
and drear as in our November. Not one of these 
poor youngsters even ventured on the croopy cough, 
that belongs to the civilized child that has only put 
his head out of doors in such weather. One can 
easily believe the records and the statements as to 
the terrible death rate among these people, and 
marvel that any ever live beyond their infancy. So 
few old people are seen among them as to continually 
cause remark, but by their Spartan system only the 
strongest can possibly survive the exposure and hard- 
ships of such a life. Consumption is the common 
ailment and carries them away in numbers, yet they 
have no medicines or remedies of their own, trust 
only to the incantations and hocus-pocus of their 
medicine-men, and take not the slightest care to 
protect themselves from exposure. Great epidemics 
have swept these islands at times, and forty years ago 
the scourge of smallpox carried off half the natives 
of" Alaska. The tribes never regained their num- 
bers after that terrible devastation, and since then 
black measles and other diseases have so reduced 
their people that another fifty years may see these 
tribes extinct. The smoke of their dwellings and 
the glare from the snow in winter increases diseases 
of the eye, and most interesting cases for an oculist 
are presented in every group. 

Indian women crouched on the wharf with their 
wares spread before them, or wandered like shadows 


about the ship's deck, offering baskets and mats 
woven of the fine threads of the inner bark and roots 
of the cedar, and extending arms covered with silver 
bracelets to the envious gaze of their white sisters. 
There was no savage modesty or simplicity about the 
prices asked, and their first demands were generally 
twice what the articles were worth. They are keen 
traders and sharp at bargaining, and no white man 


outwits these natives. Conversation was carried 
on with them in the Chinook jargon, the language 
compounded by Hudson Bay Company traders from 
French, English, Russian, and the dialect of the 
Chinook tribe once living at the mouth of the Colum- 
bia River. The Indians from California to the Arctic 
Ocean understand more or less of this jargon, and in 
Oregon and Washington Territory Chinook is a most 
necessary accomplishment. 

At the traders' stores in town we found whole 


museums of Indian curios, and revelled in the oddi- 
ties and strange art-works of the people. The round 
baskets of split cedar, woven so tightly as to be water- 
proof, and ornamented in rude geometrical designs 
in bright colors, are the first choice for souvenirs 
among tourists. After that the carvings, the minia- 
ture totems and canoes, the grotesque masks and 
dance rattles, take the eye. There were, too, the fine 
ancestral spoons made from the horns of mountain 
goat and musk ox, and finished with handles carved 
in full and high relief, and inlaid with bits of abalone- 
shell, bears' teeth, and lucky stones from the head of 
the codfish. Of furs and skins every store held a 
great supply, and when bearskins and squirrel robes 
had no effect the traders would bring out their trea- 
sures of otter, fox, and seal, and show the bales of furs 
that awaited transportation to the south. A robe of 
gray squirrel two yards square was bought for one dol- 
lar and fifty cents, and sealskins at eight dollars, silver- 
fox skins for twenty-five dollars, and sea-otter skins for 
one hundred dollars, continued the ascending scale of 
prices. The real entertainment of the day came after 
we had bought our baskets and spoons and carvings 
at the traders' stores, and were enjoying a few dry 
hours in the cabin. Then the Indian women came 
tapping at the windows with their bracelets, and the 
keen spirit of the trade having possessed us, we made 
wonderful bargains with the relenting savages. A tap 
on the window, and the one word " Bracelet ! " or the 
Chinook ^' Klickivilly,'' would bring all the ladies to 
their feet, and the mechanical *' how much " that 
followed became so automatic during the day, that 
when the porter rapped at night for lights to be put 


out, he was greeted with a " how much " in response. 
For each bracelet the Indians wailed out a demand 
for '^ mox tollaj' two dollars in our tongue. They 
finally came down to " ict tolla sitcimi!' or one dollar 
and fifty cents, and rapidly disposed of their trea- 
sures. Some lucky purchasers happened upon the 
unredeemed pledges in the pawn branch of a jolly 
old trader's store, and for "■ sitcimi tolla!' or fifty 
cents, walked off with flat silver bracelets a quarter 
of an inch wide, carved in rude designs of leaves and 

Even Indian society is dull in the. summer time, as 
they all go off in great parties to catch their winter 
supplies of fish. While the salmon are running no 
Indian wants to stay at home in the village, but no 
angler can imagine that they need go far to drop the 
line, when one copper-colored Izaak dropped his hali- 
but hook off the Juneau wharf and pulled up a fish 
weighing nine hundred pounds. Being clubbed on 
the head and hauled up with much help, the mon- 
ster halibut was sold for two dollars and fifty cents, 
which statement completes about as remarkable a 
fish story as one dares to tell, even at this distance. 

Halibut of ninety and one hundred pounds have 
been caught over the ship's side in these channels, 
and Captain Cook tells of one weighing five hundred 
pounds, and other navigators of those weighing nine 
hundred pounds. Halibut is a staff of life to the 
Indians, and their menu always comprises it. They 
catch the halibut with elaborately-carved wooden 
hooks made of red cedar or the heart of spruce roots, 
fastened to lines of twisted cedar bark, or braided 
seaweed. Clubs carved with the fisherman's totem 


and other designs are used to kill them with when 
drawn up to the side of the canoe. At many of the 
fisheries a great deal of halibut is salted and packed 
before the salmon season begins, and halibut fins are 
choice morsels that command a higher price by the 
barrel than salmon bellies. 

The second time that I saw Juneau it was like 
another place in the last golden glow of the afternoon 
sun. They had been having clear weather for weeks, 
and under a radiant blue sky Juneau was the most 
charming little mountain nook and seashore village 
one could look for. The whole summit ranges of the 
mountains on the Juneau shore and on the island 
were visible, and at a distance the little white houses 
of the town looked like bits of the snowbanks, that 
had slid three thousand feet down the track of the 
cascades to the beach. We determined on an early 
start for the mines the next morning, anxious to 
see the places that baffled the pilgrims the first time. 

The site of the mining camp in the Silver Bow 
Basin is even more picturesque, and the trail from 
Juneau leads straight up the mountain side, then 
down to a second valley, and along the wild canon 
of Gold Creek and into the basin of the Silver Bow. 
All the way it leads through dense forests and luxu- 
riant bottom land, where the immense pine-trees, the 
thickets of ferns and devil's club, and the rank under- 
growth of bushes and grasses, continually excite one's 
wonder. We rose at half past five in order to go 
out to the basin and get back before the ship sailed 
at ten o'clock, and in the fresh, dewy air and the pure 
light of the early morning it was a walk through an 
enchanted forest and a happy valley. The trail wound 


up to fifteen hundred feet, dropped by long jumps 
and slides to the first level of the canon and reached 
fifteen hundred feet above the sea again in the Basin. 
The devil's club, a tall, thorny plant with leaves 
twelve and more inches across, grew in impassable 
clumps in the woods, and the sunlight falling on these 
large leaves gave a tropical look to the forest. The 
devil's club is the prospectors' dread, and the thorny 
sticks used to do to switch witches with in the Indians* 
old uncivilized days. Echinopanax horrida is the 
botanist's awful name for it, and that alone is caution 
enough for one to avoid it. There were thickets of 
thimbleberry bushes covered with large, creamy- 
white blossoms ; and clusters of white ranunculus, 
white columbine, blue geranium, and yellow monkey 
flowers grew in patches and dyed the ground with 
their massed colors. The ferns were everywhere, 
and under bushes and beside fallen logs, delicate 
maidenhair ferns, with fine ebony stems, were gath- 
ered by the handful. We met a few well-dressed 
Indians hurrying to town, and an occasional miner, 
who gave us a cheery greeting. 

Blue jays flitted down the path before us, flashing 
their beautiful wings in the sunshine ; and where the 
canon grew steeper and narrower. Gold Creek roared 
like a muddy Niagara. High up in a ravine a melt- 
ing snowbank disclosed a great cave underneath, and 
its edges were fringed with waving grasses and flow- 
ers. Even hydraulic mining cannot scar and dis- 
figure this country, where a mantle of green clothes 
every bare patch in a second season, and mosses and 
lichens cover the stones and boulders. The moss or 
sphagnum, that covers the ground, is as great an 


obstacle to the prospectors' search as the thickets of 
"devil's club." A campfire built on this moss 
gradually burns and sinks through, and the miner, 
returning to his open fire, often finds it lying deep 
in a well-hole that it has made for itself. In view of 
the obstacles encountered, the discovery of these 
mining regions is most remarkable, and is the great- 
est monument to the prospectors' zeal. 

We passed picturesque little log cabins and crossed 
the debris of hydraulic mines, watched the men in a 
narrow gulch cleaning up their sluices, and going 
around the corner of Snowslide Gulch, just this side of 
Specimen Gulch, we met Mr. B. and his dog. Down 
we all sat, dog included, and indulged in the light and 
dry repast that we carried in our pockets. Mr. B. was 
a typical and ideal miner, and in his high boots, can- 
vas trousers, flannel shirt, big felt hat, and heavy 
gold watch chain, made exactly the figure for the 
landscape, as he rested on a big boulder beside the 
roaring creek. We started to tell him the great 
news that Alaska at last had a governor and a gov- 
ernment, and, bethinking ourselves of the little side 
incident of Presidential nominations, began to tell him 
about them. He manifested so little excitement over 
Blaine and Logan that we asked if his seven years 
without seeing the polls had made him so indifferent. 

" Oh ! Lord no ; I 'm a Democrat though, I guess, 
ma'am," said Mr. B., apologetically. 

" Then we '11 never tell you who they have nomi- 
nated, if you are on that side," said a Republican, 
firmly, and Mr. B.'s Homeric laugh made that moun- 
tain glen ring before he was enlightened as to Cleve- 
land and Hendricks. 


Our miner told us of a piece of quartz that he had 
found the day before, that looked " as if the gold had 
been poured on hot and had spattered all over it," 
and then we had to part with him and hurry on in 
different ways. 

Silver Bow Basin is a place to delight an aesthetic 
miner with in the way of landscape, and any one with 
a soul in him would surely appreciate that little round 
valley sunk deep in the heart of great mountains, 
with snow-caps on every horizon line, a glacier slip- 
ping from a great ravine, and waterfalls tumbling 
noisily down the slopes. A little cluster of cabins is 
set in the middle of this Basin, and tiny cabins, dump 
piles, and lines of flumes can be seen on the sides of 
the steep mountains. The camp had fallen away in 
numbers since the preceding year, and the mining 
community dwindled from two hundred to less than 
one hundred workers. As the placers showed signs 
of exhaustion, the roving adventurers had left, and the 
most of those living in the basin were chiefly occupied 
in holding down their quartz claims until the reign of 
law and the rush of capitalists should begin. Placer 
claims that had yielded thirty dollars and fifty dollars 
a day to the man were abandoned, as the debris from 
the old glaciers and land-slides came to an end. 
Across the range in Dix Bow Basin the same condi- 
tions existed. Returning on the trail, we met a few 
miners going back to their cabins and claims, and 
one sociable fellow stopped for a time to talk to us. 
He complimented the small party on our energy in 
taking that early stroll, and in the most regretful 
way apologized for the roughness and wildness of the 
very surroundings with which we were so enraptured. 


A jolly old fellow with a shrewd twinkle in his eye 
came up the trail swinging his coat gayly, and, plant- 
ing himself in the pathway, took off his hat with a 
fine flourish and said to me, " Madam, I was told to 
watch out for you on- this road, and to look you 
squarely in the eye and tell you to hurry back to the 
ship or you would be left." There was a shout all 
round at this unmistakable message of the skipper, 
and the gay miner enjoyed it most of all. Timing 
ourselves by our watches, we lingered long on the 
last mile, sitting on a log in the cool shade of the 
forest, where the trail almost overhung the little 
town. We could watch the people walking in the 
streets beneath, and in the still, slumbering sunshine 
almost catch the hum of their voices. Pistol-shots 
raised crashing echoes between the high mountain 
walls, and set all the big ravens to croaking in hoarse 

On the east shore of Douglass Island, opposite 
Juneau, the group of Indian huts and canoes on the 
beach, and the skeleton of a flume stalking across a 
gorge and down to the water, tell of the mining 
camp there. Running across the narrow channel, 
the ship anchored off the Treadwell mine, on Doug- 
lass Island, and while the miners' supplies were being 
put in the lighter, we all went ashore and climbed the 
steep and picturesque trail to the mill. The super- 
intendent took his lantern and marshalled the file 
into the tunnel to see the air-drill at work, and 
then we all filed out again. The Treadwell is one of 
the remarkable mines on the Pacific coast, and said 
to be one of the largest quartz ledges in the world. 
The vein is over four hundred feet wide, cropping 


out on the surface and crossed by three tunnels. The 
ore is not high grade, but is easily mined and milled, 
and the supply is inexhaustible. The owners are 
Messrs. Treadwell, Frye, Freeborn, and Hill, of San 
J^rancisco, and Senator J. P. Jones of Nevada. So 
far only a small 15-stamp mill has been at work on 
the ore, but the owners have decided to erect a 
120-stamp mill this year and develop the property 
systematically The progress of the Treadwell mine 
has been carefully watched by miners and capitalists, 
and its success has done much to encourage others to 
hold on to their properties in the face of all the dis- 
couragements they have had to undergo through gov- 
ernment neglect. 

The Bear Ledge, owned by Captain Carroll and 
his partners, adjoins the Treadwell or Paris claim, 
and is a continuation of the same rich vein ; and from 
the richness and extent of these and other mines^ it 
is believed that a large town will eventually spring up 
on the island. A town-site was located and called 
Cooperstown, in 1881, soon after the discovery of 
gold on the island, but so far only the tents of placer 
miners have marked it. For two seasons lawless 
bodies of men worked the placers on the surface of 
the Treadwell lode, and, as there was no power to 
appeal to, the Treadwell company were forced to en- 
dure it. During the summer of 1883, over twenty- 
five thousand dollars was taken from the surface of 
the ledge in this way. The miners pounded up the 
rich, decomposed quartz in hand-mortars, and as it 
was impossible to extract all the gold by the rude 
process employed, they dumped over into the chan- 
nel richer quartz, in many instances, than had been 


worked in the Treadwell mill. The deposit of decom- 
posed quartz on the top of the ledge was in some 
places ten feet deep, and in working it the squatters 
took the water of the Paris, or Hayes Creek, and shut 
off the mill supply entirely. There was a sharp 
contest between the mill-owners and the hydraulic 
miners, and the man-of-war at Sitka had to be sent 
for before the matter was adjusted. They pledged 
themselves, " until such time as they should have civil 
law," to let the mill have the use of the water for 
twelve hours and the miners for the other twelve 
hours of each twenty-four, and the squatters were not 
to blast the lode, but only wash the surface ground. 

An island gold field is a rarity in mining annals, 
but all Douglass Island is said to be seamed with 
quartz lodes, and it is ridged with high mountains 
from end to end of its twenty-mile boundaries. It 
was eighty-seven years after Vancouver's surveys be- 
fore the prospectors found the gold on its shores, but 
the miners have retained the old nomenclature, and 
the island is still Douglass Island, as Vancouver 
named it in honor of his friend, the Bishop of Salis- 




JUNEAU is far enough north to satisfy any rea- 
sonable summer ambition, and with its latitude 
of 58° 16' N., the young mining town and future 
metropolis is but little above the line of Glasgow, 
Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and Moscow. The deep 
waters of Gastineaux Channel are obstructed by 
ledges just north of Juneau, and the eighteen feet 
fall of the regular tides leaves islands and reefs visi- 
ble in mid-channel. For this reason the ship had 
to return on its course, and round Douglass Island, 
before it could continue further north, and when that 
island of solid gold quartz was left behind, the vessel 
entered a maze of smaller islands and threaded its 
way into the grand reaches of Lynn Canal. Van- 
couver named this arm of the sea for the town of 
Lynn, in Norfolk, England, the place of his nativity, 
and his explorers began the song of praise that is 
chanted by every summer traveller who follows their 
course up the high-walled, glacier-bound fiord. The 
White Mountains present bold barriers on the west, 
and along the eastern shores the great continental 
range fronts abruptly on the water. Each point or 
peak passed brought another glacier into view, nine- 


teen glaciers in all b^ing visible on the way up the 
canal. The great Auk glacier was first seen, and 
then the Eagle glacier, toppling over a precipice 
three thousand feet in air, their frozen crests and 
fronts turning pinnacles of silver and azure to the 
radiant sun. 

Not even " the blue Canary Isles " could have of- 
fered a more " glorious summer day " than the one 
that we enjoyed while the Idaho steamed straight 
up Lynn Canal, headed for the north pole. The sun 
shone so warmly on deck that we laid aside wraps, and 
sat under the grateful shade of an umbrella. There 
was a sparkle and freshness to the air, and under an 
ecstatic blue sky fleecy white clouds drifted about the 
mountain summits and mingled their vapory outlines 
with the fields of snow. We revelled in the beauties 
of the scenes, and appreciated at the moment that 
this passage leading to the Chilkat country is perhaps 
the finest fiord of the coast. Lynn Canal slumbered 
as a sapphire sea between its high mountain walls, 
with scarcely a ripple on its surface. The blue ex- 
panse was streaked with a greenish gray where the 
turbid streams poured in from the melting glaciers, 
and was marked with a distinct line where the azure 
water changed to green, and then it faded away into 
gray again, where the fresh waters of the Chilkat 
River flowed in. 

At the head of Lynn Canal a long point juts out 
into the current, with the Chilkat Inlet opening at 
the left, and the Chilkoot Inlet at the right. Opposite 
this tongue of land on the Chilkat side is the great 
Davidson glacier, sweeping down a gorge between 
two mountains, and spreading out like an opened fan. 


The glacier is three miles across its front and twelve 
hundred feet high, where it slopes to reach the level 
ground, and it is separated from the waters of the 
inlet by a terminal moraine covered with a thick 
forest of pines. The symmetry of its outlines and 
the grand slope of its broken surface are most im- 
pressive, and this mighty torrent, arrested in its 
sweep, shows in every pinnacle and crevice all the 
blues of heaven, the palest tints of beryl and glacier 
ice, and the sheen of snow and silver in the sunshine. 
It is worthily named for Professor George Davidson, 
the astronomer, and its lower slopes were explored 
by him during his visits to the Chilkat country on 
government and scientific missions. 

Rounding a sharp point beyond the glacier, the 
IdaJio swept into a circling, half-moon cove, where 
a picturesque Indian camp nestled at the foot of 
the precipitous Mount Labouchere, not named for the 
witty editor of the London Truths but for one of the 
Hudson Bay Company's steamers that first penetrated 
these waters and anchored regularly in this Pyramid 
Harbor. The cannon-shot, which was such an impor- 
tant feature in the progress of the Idaho, gave a 
tremendous echo from mountain to mountain, and 
glacier to glacier, and thundered and rolled down the 
inlet for uncounted seconds, as the anchor dropped. 
The tents and bark huts, and the trader's store of the 
little settlement, showed finely against the deep green 
mat at the foot of the vertical mountain, and in the 
early afternoon all lay in clear shadow, and the moun- 
tain seemed to almost overhang the ship as she swung 
round from her anchor chain. There was an excited 
rushing to and fro on shore ; dogs and Indians gath- 


ered at the beach, and canoes put off before the 
ship's boats were lowered to take us ashore. 

The Northwest Trading Company's large store and 
salmon cannery were quite overlooked in the travel- 
lers' hasty rush for the Indian tents, that were scat- 
tered in groups along the narrow clearing between 
tide-water and mountain wall. Before each tent and 
cabin were frames, hung with what looked to be bits 
of red flannel at a distance, but proved to be drying 
salmon when we reached them. It was a gaudy and 
effective decoration, and a Chilkat salmon is as bright 
a color, when caught, as a lobster after it has been 
boiled. Though a warlike and aggressive people, the 
Chilkats practise many of the arts of peace, and the 
wood-carvings and curios that they had for sale were 
eagerly bought. Miniature totem poles and canoes, 
pipes, masks, forks, and spoons changed ownership 
rapidly, and Indians and passengers regretted that 
there were no more. Bone sticks, used for martin- 
traps by the Tinneh tribes of the interior, were to 
be had, with every stick topped with some totemic 
beast, and there were queer little fish and toys of 
soapstone, made by the same peaceful natives. Cop- 
per bracelets, covered with Chilkat designs, were 
offered by a lame rascal, who said, " Gold ! gold ! " to 
the eager curio-seekers who snatched at his shining 
wares. Copper knives and arrow-tips were also dis- 
played, and articles of this metal are distinctly Chil- 
kat work, as the art of forging copper was long a 
secret of theirs. Relics of the stone age were 
brought forth, and granite mortars and axes, and 
leather dressers of slate, offered for sale. Stone- 
age implements are being rapidly gathered up in this 


country, and a trader, who has received and filled large 
orders for eastern museums and societies, threatens 
to bring up a skilled stonecutter to supply the in- 
creasing demands of scientists, now that the Indians 
have parted with most of their heirloom specimens. 

In one tent two women were at work weaving a 
large Chilkat blanket on a primitive loom. These 
blankets, woven from the long fleece of the mountain 


goat, have been a specialty of the Chilkats as long as 
white men have known them. The chiefs who met 
Vancouver were wrapped in these gorgeous totemic 
blankets or cloaks, and in early days they were common- 
ly worn by the chiefs and rich men. Since the traders 
have introduced the w^oollen blankets of commerce, 
the native manufactures have been neglected, and 
now that the art is dying out, the few that remain in 
the possession of the natives are highly valued and 


only taken from their cedar boxes on the occasion of 
great feasts and ceremonies. These blankets are 
found among all the Thlinket tribes, and the Haidas 
at Kasa-an Bay had many Chilkat cloaks and gar- 
ments stored away in their cabins. The blankets 
average two yards in width and about one yard in 
depth, and are bordered at the ends and across the 
bottom with a deep fringe. The colors are black, 
white, and yellow, with occasional touches of a soft, 
dull blue. Soot, or bituminous coal, gives the base for 
the black dye, and they get the pure, brilliant yellow 
from a moss that grows on the rocks. The blue is 
made by boiling copper and seaweeds together. They 
make fine trophies for wall decorations, or, as rugs or 
lambrequins, are superior to the Navajo and Zuni 
blankets of the New Mexico Indians. The totemic 
figures woven in these cloaks tell allegories and 
legends to the natives, and the conventionalized 
whales, eagles, and ravens are full of meaning, record- 
ing the great battles between the clans, the incidents 
of family history, and deeds at arms. The price of a 
blanket ranges from twenty to forty dollars ; the fine- 
ness of the work, the beauty of the design, and the 
anxiety of the purchaser all helping to increase the 

As in all Indian villages, the fierce, wolfish-looking 
dogs showed an inclination to growl and snap at the 
white people, but the hard-featured, strong-minded 
women of the Chilkat tribe silenced them with a 
word, or a skilfully thrown brand snatched from the 
family camp fire. The children and the dogs were 
always getting under foot and crowding into each 
group, and in the Alpine valley, where the afternoon 


shadows brought a pleasant sharpness to the air, the 
youngsters were as scantily clad as in the tropics. 
They sat on the damp ground and stole handfuls of 
rice from the pots boiling on the fires, or furtively 
dipped the spoons into the mess one minute and hit 
the dogs with the table utensil the next. One boy, 
who had sold a great many little carved toys to the 
visitors, dashed off into a thicket of wild roses, and 
gallantly brought back fragrant pink blossoms for his 
customers. Sitka Jack's carved canoe was drawn up 
on shore, and that grandee at last appeared to us, 
and after selling his own pipe and carved possessions, 
he wandered about and interfered in every one's bar- 
gains by urging the natives to ask more for their 

Of the white celebrities residing at Pyramid Harbor, 
there was one with the enviable fame of being " the 
handsomest man in Alaska," and when he went 
gliding out to the ship in a swift native canoe, and 
appeared on deck as if just stepped aside from a 
Broadway stroll, there was a perceptible flutter in the 
ladies' cabin. Another fine-looking man of distin- 
guished manner, found wandering on shore, proved to 
be a French count, who, having dissipated three 
fortunes in the gayeties of a Parisian life, has hidden 
himself in this remote corner of the world to ponder 
on the philosophy of life, and wait for the favorable 
stroke that shall enable him to return and shine once 
more among his gay comrades of the boulevard, the 
Bois and the opera foyer. 

At Pyramid Harbor the ship reached the most 
northern point on her course and the end of the inside 
passage. At 59° 1 1' N. we were many degrees distant 


from the Arctic Circle, but, although it was mid-July, 
the sun did not set until half past nine o'clock by 
ship's time, and the clear twilight lasted until the 
royal flush of sunrise was bathing the summits of the 
higher mountains. At midnight fine print could be 
read on deck, and at the hour when churchyards yawn 
the amateur photographers turned their cameras upon 
the matchless panorama before them, and the full 
witchery of that serene northern night was felt when 
the crescent of the young moon showed itself faint 
and ethereal in the eastern sky. 

We had been watching a rocky platform up on the 
mountain side, in the hopes of seeing the bear with 
her cubs, who, living in some crevice near there, was 
said to promenade on her airy perch at all hours of 
the day and look down defiantly on the settlement. 
We were tiring of that cuckoo-clock amusement, 
when a shaggy man came on the scene and said to 
the photographers, — 

" You ought to have been here in June, if you 
wanted to see long days. You never would know 
when it was time to go to bed then." 

" Does n't it ever get dark here ? " we yawned at 
him in chorus. 

" Sometimes," he answered. " 'Bout long enough 
to get your overcoat off, I reckon." 

A year later there was the same beautiful trip up 
Lynn Canal, and as a mark of growth and progress 
the Aiicoii found a large wharf to tie up to at Pyramid 
Harbor. The cannery building had been enlarged, 
and the Indian tents replaced with log and bark 
houses. The cannery, that had been a losing venture 
in the first year, gave promise of better returns, and 


Pyramid Harbor wore quite a prosperous air. The 
Indians and their curios were again the sole distract- 
ing interest of the passengers, and the Chilkats, as 
before, sold everything desirable that they owned. 

A strapping young Indian seized upon us as we 
were wandering on shore, rattled off the few words, 
" My papa, Sitka Jack, my papa heap sick," and soon 
we were chasing over grass and gravel, at the heels of 
this young Hercules, to his neat log house. The son 
of Sitka Jack showed first the curios he had for sale, 
and then his pretty wife, who wore a yellow dress and 
a bright blue blanket, and had a clean face illuminated 
by soft black eyes and rosy cheeks. Lastly he led us 
at a quickstep to the place where his venerable papa 
sat crouched in a blanket. The son spoke English 
well, but so rapidly, that he brought himself up breath- 
less every few minutes, and the docile, infantile way 
in which this six-footed fellow spoke of his " papa " 
more than amused us. 

The "papa" is one of the head chiefs of the Sitka 
tribe, but goes to Chilkat Inlet every summer to visit 
his wife's relations during the salmon season. He 
is an arrant old rascal, and has made a great deal 
of trouble at times ; but in his feeble old age he 
has a kindly and pleasant smile, and a quiet dignity 
that is in great contrast to his vehement, impetuous 
young son. Mrs. Sitka Jack is the sister of Doniwak, 
the one-eyed tyrant who rules the lower Chilkat 
village, and now that her liege is becoming helpless, 
her influence is more supreme than ever. She sat 
like a queen, kindly relaxing some of the grimness of 
her expression when she saw that we had been buy- 
ing from her son, but everything indicated that she 


had the most eloquent and obstreperous chief of the 
Sitkans completely disciplined. One of her Chilkat 
nephews was introduced to us by her glib son, and 
the hulking young savage fairly crushed our civilized 
hands in his friendly grasp, and critically examined 
our purchases. 

A wild-looking old medicine-man, with long red hair, 
hovered on the outskirts of the group, and finally 
showed us, with innocent pride, a naval officer's letter 
of credentials, which testified to his having a good 
ear for music, since he neither flinched nor winked, 
when a large cannon was slyly touched off at his 
elbow, during one of his visits on board a man-of-war. 

Three-Fingered Jack, a celebrity of another order, 
wandered about the camp arrayed in the cast-off 
uniform of a naval officer, with his breast pinned full 
of tin and silver stars, like a German diplomat. 
Sitka Jack's son looked quite unconscious while the 
three-fingered lion passed by ; but when we directed 
his attention to him, the son of his papa gave a pity- 
ing, contemptuous look and declared that he did not 
know who it was. As well might we have asked one 
of the Capulets who Romeo was. 

Kloh-Kutz, or Hole-in-the-Cheek, the head chief of 
the Chilkats, appeared to us only in flying glimpses, 
as he ran up and down the steps of the trader's store. 
He is a wrinkled old fellow now, and the hole left in 
his cheek by a wound is decorated by a large bone 
button similar to those that the women wear in their 
cheeks. When Professor Davidson, of the Coast 
Survey, went to the Chilkat country in 1867, on the 
revenue cutter Lincoln, Capt. J. W. White command- 
ing, to gather material for a report upon the topo- 


graphy, climate, and the resources of Alaska, called 
for by the Congressional committees having the mat- 
ter of the purchase of the territory in charge, he first 
made the acquaintance of Kloh-Kutz, then in his 

In 1869 Professor Davidson revisited the Chilkat 
country to observe the total ecUpse of the sun, and, 
by invitation of Kloh-Kutz, established his observa- 
tory at the village of Klu-Kwan, twenty miles up the 
Chilkat River. The station was called Kloh-Kutz in 
honor of the distinguished patron and protector of 
the scientists, who gave them the great council-house 
for a residence. In the ardor of his hospitality Kloh- 
Kutz was going to have the name " Davidson " 
tattoed on his arm, but at the suggestion of the 
astronomer gave up that elaborate design, and had 
" Seward " traced across his biceps with a needle 
and thread dipped in soot and seal oil and drawn 
through the flesh. He was quite willing to wear his 
name when he learned that Seward was the great 
Tyee, or chief, who bought the country of the Rus- 
sians and thereby raised the price of furs so greatly. 

In advance of the eclipse. Professor Davidson told 
his host what would happen ; that the sun would be 
hidden at midday, and darkness fall upon the land 
on the 7th of August, and that it would come as a 
great shadow sweeping down the valley of the Chil- 
kat. The Indians had always gathered and silently 
watched the white men when they pointed their 
strange instruments at the sun each day, but they fled 
in terror when the great darkness began to come, and 
did not return until the eclipse was over. They 
regarded Professor Davidson with the greatest awe, 


as a wonderful medicine-man who could perform 
such great miracles at will ; and Kloh-Kutz, delighted 
with the great trick of his friend, made a serious 
offer of all his canoes, blankets, and wives, if the 
astronomer would tell him "how he did it," and 
divulge the secret confidentially to a brother con- 

The evening before the eclipse, word reached Pro- 
fessor Davidson that Secretary Seward and his party 
were at the mouth of the Chilkat River, to convey 
him back to Portland on their steamer, as soon as 
his observations were completed. Kloh-Kutz was 
invited to come down and meet the great Tyee, and 
hold a council with Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, the military 
commandant, who had gone up from Sitka with the 
Seward party. Kloh-Kutz chose the flower of Chil- 
kat chivalry to go below with his great war canoe 
and carry a letter from Professor Davidson to Mr. 
Seward, urging him to *' come up hither " and see 
the territory he had bought ; and luring on the ex- 
premier by saying that he had discovered an iron 
mountain, the ore of which was seventy per cent 
iron. Referring to this fact in a speech made at a 
public meeting in Sitka afterwards, Mr. Seward 
said : 

*•' When I came there I found very properly he had 
been studying the heavens so busily that he had but 
cursorily examined the earth under his feet ; that it 
was not a single iron mountain he had discovered, 
but a range of hills, the very dust of which adheres 
to the magnet, while the range itself, 2,000 feet high, 
extends along the east bank of the river thirty 


Mr. Seward and his son, and General Davis, with two 
staff officers, and others of the party, left the ship in 
three canoes early on the morning of the day of the 
eclipse. They were half way up to Klu-Kwan village. 
when the shadow began to cross the sun, and the 
weird, unearthly light fell upon the land. The In 
dians in the canoe said the sun " was very sick and 
wanted to go to sleep," and they refused to paddle any 
further. The canoes were beached quickly, and the 
visitors made a sociable camp-fire for themselves, and 
cooked their dinner by its blaze. Late in the after- 
noon they reached the village, and that evening Kloh- 
Kutz made a call of ceremony upon the guests in the 
council-house. There was an array of Chilkat chiefs 
and Chilkat women to witness the meeting of the 
Tyees, and after a speech of welcome, Kloh-Kutz 
drew up his sleeve dramatically and showed the 
*' Seward " tattoed with his totems on his arm. 
The great diplomat was quite astonished and be- 
wildered, and the handwriting on the wall hardly 
made a greater sensation in Belshazzar's court. 

The next morning the wa-wa^ or official council, 
was held with the aid of two interpreters, one to 
translate English into Russian, and the other to 
translate Russian into Chilkat. Believing that if 
Mr. Seward bought Alaska, he must still own it in 
person, Kloh-Kutz ignored Gen. Davis, as being only 
the great Tyee's servant, and addressed himself 
directly to the supposed ruler of the whole country. 
His grievance was that, ten years before, three 
Chilkats had been killed at Sitka, and now, "What 
is the great Tyee going to do about it t " Kloh- 
Kutz was not to be put off by the diplomatic answer 


that the murder had happened during Russian days. 
He said that " the Tyee of the Russians was so poor 
that he could not keep his land and had to sell it," 
but for all that he must have reparation for the loss 
of his three Chilkats. To his mind one Chilkat was 
worth three Sitkans, and if the Tyee would let him 
kill nine Sitkans, the account would be squared. 
With a finesse worthy of a diplomat who had dealt 
with all the great nations of the earth, Mr. Seward 
finally brought Kloh-Kutz down to accepting forty 
blankets as an indemnity, and he and his sub-chief 
Colchica and their wives led the guard of honor that 
escorted the great Tyee back to his ship. Captain 
C. C. Dall, who commanded the steamer Active 
during that memorable cruise, gave a great entertain- 
ment to the chiefs on board, and fireworks rounded 
off that memorable evening. Mr. Seward presented 
a flag to the Chilkat chief, and at the banquet in 
the cabin, he and Professor Davidson gave astronomy 
by easy lessons to their Chilkat visitors, and dis- 
claimed any agency in the eclipse as an accompani- 
ment of the Tyee's visit. 

Kloh-Kutz is delighted ;^et to show his Seward tat- 
too mark to any one, and to tell of the visit of the great 
Tyee. He is a chief of advanced and liberal notions, 
a high-strung, imperious old fellow, and has a fine 
countenance, marred only by the wound in his cheek, * 
which was received at the hands of one of his own 
tribe during some internecine troubles. His assailant 
held a revolver close to Kloh-Kutz's head, and when 
the chief looked scornfully at it, the trigger was 
snapped. Weak powder prevented the ball from 
inflicting any more seriouo injuries than to enter his 



cheek and tear away a few teeth. Kloh-Kiitz swal- 
lowed his teeth and handed the bullet back to his 
assailant with a fine gesture, saying : " You cannot 
hurt me. See ! " 

A few years since a young German was sent up to 
establish the trading post at Pyramid Harbor, and 
was introduced to Kloh-Kutz as a great Tyee. When 
the agent failed to recognize, or understand the 
meaning of the ''Seward" on his arm, Kloh-Kutz 
was disgusted, and refused to treat with him as any- 
thing but a mere trader. 

*' How can he be a Tyee, if he does not know the 
chief of all the Tyees ?" scornfully said Kloh Kutz. 

On the east shore of Chilkat Inlet, opposite 
Pyramid Harbor, is the rival trading station of 
Chilkat, where Kinney, the Astoria salmon packer, 
has another cannery. In the rivalry and competition 
of the first year (1883) btween the Pyramid Harbor 
and Chilkat canneries, the price of salmon rose from 
two to fifteen cents for a single fish, and the Indians, 
once demoralized by opposition prices, refused to 
listen to reason when the canneries had to, and 
Chinese cheap labor was imported. There has been 
wrath in the Chilkat heart ever since the Chinese 
cousins went there, and old Kloh-Kutz indignantly 
said : " If Indian know how to make hoocJiinoo (whis- 
key) out of an oil can and a piece of seaweed, he 
knows enough to can salmon." 

During its first year the Kinney cannery shipped 
sixty barrels of salt salmon and 2,890 cases of canned 
salmon, working at a great disadvantage for want of 
proper nets. In 1884 the amount of salmon shipped 
was doubled. 


Chilkat and Pyramid Harbor are rivals also in the 
fur trade, and at Chilkat especially, the skins and 
furs shown were finer than had been seen at any 
of the other trading places. The shrewd Chilkats 
are as hard bargainers as the old Hudson Bay Com- 
pany people ever were, and they get the furs from 
the interior tribes for a mere trifle in comparison 
to what they demand for the same pelts from the 
traders. In Hudson Bay Company trades, the cheap 
flint-lock muskets used to be sold to the Indians, by 
standing the gun on the ground and piling up marten 
skins beside it, until they were even with the top of 
the gun-barrel. That hoax is equalled now by the 
tricks of the Chilkats, who sell gunpowder to the 
unsophisticated men of the interior tribes at an aver- 
age rate of twenty-five dollars a pound, and boast of 
their smartness at this kind of bargaining which brings 
a profit of one hundred and even two thousand per 
cent. Only one tourist was ever known to get the 
better of a Chilkat at a bargain, and that was when a 
common red felt tennis hat, bought for half a dollar 
at Victoria, was exchanged for a silver bracelet by a 
Chicago man, who regretted for the rest of his trip 
that he had not bought a box of hats to trade for 

Back of the Chilkat cannery a few miles, and fac- 
ing on Chilkoot Inlet, is the mission station of Haines, 
named for a benevolent lady of Brooklyn, N. Y., who 
supports the establishment, presided over by the Rev. 
E. S. Willard and his wife . 

Either the Chilkat, or the Chilkoot Inlet gives en- 
trance to a chain of rivers and lakes, that, leading 
through gorges and mountain passes, conducts the 



prospector by a final portage to Lewis River, one of 
the head tributaries of the Yukon. The Chilkat In- 
dians, with a fine sense of the importance of their 
position, have always closely guarded these approaches 
to the interior, and prevented the Indians of the back 
country from ever coming down to the coast and the 
white traders. They have thus held the monopoly of 
the fur trade of the region, and, while keeping the 
interior Indians back, have been quite as careful not 
to let any white men across. 

On account of this guard, Vancouver's men expe- 
rienced some of the hospitable attentions of the Chil- 
kats when they were exploring the channel in 1794. 
A canoe-load of natives bore down upon Whidby's 
boat, and urged the Englishmen to accompany them 
on up the Chilkat River to the great villages, where 
eight chiefs of consequence resided. Vancouver's 
men declined the invitation, and the chief, command- 
ing the first canoe, made hostile flourishes with the 
brass speaking-trumpet and other nautical insignia 
that he carried. They followed the boats out to the 
mouth of the channel, and alarmed the Englishmen 
greatly, as they feared an attack by the whole tribe 
at any moment. 

The Russian and Hudson Bay Company's ships 
traded with the Chilkats for a half century without 
ever dealing directly with one of the natives of the 
interior, from whom came the vast stores of furs 
that were exchanged each year. The Chilkats met 
the men of the Tinneh (interior) tribes at an estab- 
lished place many miles from the mouth of the river, 
and occasionally, as a matter of diplomacy, they 
would bring a great Tinneh chief down under escort, 


and allow him to look at the "fire ship" of the 

The first man to run the gauntlet of the Chilkoot 
Pass was a red-headed Scotchman in the employ of 
the Hudson Bay Company, who left Fort Selkirk in 
1864 and forced his way alone through the unknown 
country to Chilkoot Inlet. The Indians seized the 
adventurer and held him prisoner until Captain Swan- 
son, with the Hudson Bay Company steamer La- 
douc/iere, came up and took him away. In 1872 one 
George Holt dodged through the Chilkoot Pass, and 
went down the Lewis River to the Yukon. In 1874 
Holt again crossed the Chilkoot Pass, followed the 
Lewis River to the Yukon, and then down that mighty 
stream to a place near its mouth, where he crossed 
by a portage to the Kuskokquin River, and thence 
to the sea. 

In 1877 a party of miners set out from Sitka under 
the leadership of Edmund Bean, and attempted to 
cross by the Chilkoot Pass, but the Indians obliged 
them to turn back. 

In 1878 and in 1880, prospecting parties left Sitka 
for the head waters of the Yukon, and the latter com- 
pany, through the clever diplomacy and active interest 
of Captain Beardslee, commanding the U. S. S./ames- 
tow/i, were hospitably received by the Chilkats and 
guided through their country, when convinced that 
they would not interfere with their fur trade. They 
found indications of gold kll the way, and large gravel 
deposits. This party descended the Lewis River to 
Fort Selkirk and there divided, one set of prospectors 
going down to Fort Yukon, and the others up the 
Pelly River and thence to the head waters of the 

120 sour HERN ALASKA, ^ 

Stikine River and the Cassiar region of British Co- 

In the spring of 1882 a party of forty-five miners, 
all old Arizona prospectors, left Juneau for the head 
waters of the Yukon. They returned in the fall, and 
reported discoveries of gold, silver, copper, nickel, 
and bituminous coal in the region between the Cop- 
per and Lewis Rivers. 

In the spring of 1883 one Dugan led a party from 
Juneau over the divide. In September they sent back 
by Indians for an additional supply of provisions, in- 
tending to remain in the interior all winter. They 
reported placer mines yielding one hundred and fifty 
dollars a day to the man, but another party, that left 
Juneau soon after Dugan, returned in September 
without having found any placers that yielded more 
than twenty-five dollars a day. 

Altogether more than two hundred prospectors 
crossed from Lynn Canal to the Yukon country dur- 
ing che first three years after the Chilkats raised their 
blockade. The Chilkats kept control of the travel, 
and charged six and ten dollars for each hundred 
pounds of goods that they packed across the twenty- 
four-mile portage intervening between the river and 
the chain of lakes. 

In May, 1883, Lieut. Schwatka and party crossed 
this same divide, and made a quick journey of more 
than two thousand miles by raft down the Lewis 
River to the Yukon, and down the Yukon to St. Mi- 
chael's Island in Behring Sea, and thence to San 
Francisco by the revenue cutter Corwm. 

In April, 1884, Dr. Everette, U. S. A., and two 
companions went over the Chilkat Pass to work their 


way westward to Copper River and descend it to its 
mouth. In June, Lieut. Abercrombie, U. S. A., and 
three companions were landed at the mouth of Cop- 
per River, with orders to ascend that stream and 
descend the Chilkat to Lynn Canal. These expedi- 
tions were sent out by order of General Miles, com- 
manding the Department of the Columbia, who 
visited Alaska in 1882, and has since manifested a 
great interest in the Territory. 

The present maps of this upper region of the 
Yukon give only the general courses of the rivers, and 
have not changed in any important details the Rus- 
sian charts. A unique map of the country is one 
drawn by Kloh-Kutz and his wife for Professor Da- 
vidson, and which was made the basis and authority 
for one official chart, the original remaining in Pro- 
fessor Davidson's possession at San Francisco. Kloh- 
Kutz has known the Yukon route from childhood, and, 
lying face downward, he and his wife drew on the back 
of an old chart all the rivers, with the profile of the 
mountains as they appear on either side of the water- 
courses. The one great glacier in which the Chilkat 
and the Lewis branch of the Yukon River head, is 
indicated by snow-shoe tracks to show the mode of 
progress, and the limit of each of the fourteen days' 
journey across to Fort Selkirk is marked by cross 
lines on this original Chilkat map. The father of 
Kloh-Kutz was a great chief and fur-trader before 
him, and was one of the party of Chilkats that went 
across and burned Fort Selkirk in 185 1, in retalia- 
tion for the Hudson Bay Company's interference 
with their fur trade with the Tinnehs. 

The Doctors Krause, of the Geographical Society 


of Bremen, who spent a year at the mouth of the 
Chilkat lately, made some explorations of the region 
about the portages of the Yukon, and their maps and 
publications have been of great value to the Coast 
Survey. There are dangerous rapids and canons on 
the watercourses leading to the Yukon, and none but 
miners and the most adventurous traders will prob- 
ably ever avail themselves of this route ; although by 
going some six hundred miles up to Fort Yukon, 
which is just within the Arctic Circle, the land of 
the midnight sun is reached. Professor Dall, who 
spent two years on the Yukon, has fully described 
the country below Fort Yukon in his " Resources of 
Alaska;" and the Schiefflin Brothers, of Tombstone, 
Arizona, who followed his path on an elaborately 
planned prospecting expedition in 1882, added little 
and almost nothing more to the general knowledge of 
the region. The Schiefflins found gold, but considered 
the remoteness from the sources of supplies, and the 
long winters, too great obstacles for any mines to 
be ever successfully worked there. There are fur- 
traders' stations all along the two thousand miles of 
the great stream, and within the United States boun- 
daries, the Alaska Commercial Company, and the 
Western Fur Company of San Francisco, buy the 
pelts from the Indians, and divide the great fur trade 
of this interior region. 




FROM Pyramid Harbor the ship went south to 
Icy Straits and up the other side of the long 
peninsula to Glacier Bay, so named by Captain 
Beardslee in 1880. At the mouth of it, in unknown 
and unsurveyed waters, began the search for a new 
trading station in a cove, since known as Bartlett 
Bay, in honor of the owner of the fishery, a merchant 
of Port Townsend. 

Vancouver's boats passed by Glacier Bay during his 
third cruise on this coast, and his men saw only 
frozen mountains and an expanse of ice as far as the 
eye could reach. It is only within a decade that any- 
thing has been known of the extent of the great bay 
at the foot of the Fairweather Alps, and no surveys 
have been made of its shores to correct the imperfect 
charts now in use. Revenue cutters, men-of-war, and 
traders' ships had gone as far as the entrance, but 
were prevented from advancing by adverse winds 
and currents, floating ice, and shoaling waters. The 
old moraine left by the ice-sheet that once covered 
the whole bay forms a bar and barrier at its mouth, 
and the channel has to be sought cautiously. 

Skirting the wooded shores and sailing through ice 
floes, every glass was brought into requisition for signs 


of life on land. Towards noon a white man and two 
Indians were sighted signalling from a canoe, and the 
steamer waited while they paddled towards it. They 
had been off on an unsucessful hunt for the sea 
otter, and gladly consented to have their canoe hauled 
up on deck and to impart all their knowledge of Bart- 
lett Cove. At three o'clock a resounding bang from 
the cannon announced to the Hooniah natives on shore, 
that the first ship that had ever entered that harbor 
was at hand. A canoe came rapidly paddling towards 
us, and a wild figure rose in the stern and shouted to 
the captain to " go close up to the new house and anchor 
in thirteen fathoms of water." This was Dick Wil- 
loughby, the first American pioneer in Alaska, a local 
genius, and a far-away, polar variety of " Colonel Sel- 
lers," most interesting to encounter in this last re- 
gion of No-Man's Land. Dick Willoughby came to 
this northwest coast in 1858, emigrating from Virginia 
by way of Missouri. Since that time he has ranged 
the Alaskan shores from the boundary line to Beh- 
ring's Straits, trading with the Indians, and prospect- 
ing for all the known minerals. Willoughby's mines 
and possessions are scattered all up and down the 
coast, and there is not a new scheme or enterprise in 
the territory in which he has not a share. His mines, 
if once developed to the extent he claims possible, 
would make him greater than all the bonanza men, 
and in crude and well-stored gold, silver, iron, coal, 
copper, lead, and marble he is fabulously rich. In all 
the twenty-five years he has spent here, Dick Wil- 
loughby has gone down to San Francisco but once, 
and then was in haste to get back to his cool northern 


A little Indian camp edged the beach below Wil- 
loughby's log house and store, and the natives came 
out to look at us, with quite as much interest as we 
went on shore to see them. A small iceberg, drifted 
near shore, was the point of attack for the amateur 
photographers, and the Indian children marvelled with 
open eyes at the " long-legged gun " that was pointed 
at the young men, who posed on the perilous and pic- 
turesque points of the berg. Icebergs drifting down 
the bay, and small cakes of ice washing in shore with 
the rising tide, secured that luxury of the summer 
larder to the Indians, and in every tent and bark 
house on shore there was to be found a pail or basket 
of ice-water. In Willoughby's store there were curios 
and baskets galore, and after his long and quiet life in 
the wilderness the poor man was nearly distracted, 
when seven ladies began talking to him at once, and 
mixed up the new style nickel pieces with the money 
they offered him. 

The packing-house had just been built, and the 
ship unloaded more lumber, nets, salt, barrel-staves 
and hoops, and general merchandise and provisions 
for the new station. The small lighters and canoes 
in which the freight was taken ashore made unload- 
ing a slow process, although the whole native popula- 
tion assisted. The small boys joined in the carnival, 
and little Indians of not more than six years trooped 
over the rocky beach barefooted, and carried bundles 
of barrel-staves and shingles on their heads. 

We roamed the beach, hunting for the round, cup- 
like barnacles that the whales rub off their tormented 
sides, and the children, quick to see what we were 
looking for, trooped up the beach ahead of us, and 



soon returned with dozens of them that they sold for 
a good price. Back in the little valley and natural 
clearing, the ground was covered with wild flowers 
and running strawberry vines, and the botanist was 
up to his shoulders in strange bushes, up to his 
ankles in mire, and in wild ecstacy at his finds. 
When we complimented Dick Willoughby upon the 
promising appearance of his little vegetable garden, 
and the great crop of strawberries coming on, he 
assured us that in a few weeks the ground would be 
red with fruit, and that he did not know but that he 
would be canning the wild strawberries by another 

In one tent the best Indian hunter lay dying 
from the wounds received in an encounter with a 
bear, his face being stripped of flesh by the clawing 
of the fierce animal, and his body frightfully mangled. 
The Indians, to whom remnants of their superstition 
cling, viewed him sadly as one punished by the 
spirits. Their old shamans taught them that the 
spirit of a man resided in the black bear, and it was 
sacrilege to slay this animal, representing their great 
totem. The old men mutter prayers whenever they 
find the tracks of a bear, and cannot be induced to 
bring in the skin entire. It is rare to find an Alaska 
bear skin with the nose on, the Indians believing 
that they have appeased the spirit if they leave that 
sacred particle untouched. The black, the grizzly, 
and the rare St. Elias silver bear are found in this 
Hooniah country, and their skins at the trader's store 
ranged in price from eight to twenty dollars. 

The mountain goat — Aplocenis Montana by his full 
name — disports himself on all the crags around 


Glacier Bay, and leaps through the glacial regions of 
the Fairweather Alps. He has a long, silvery white 
hair, that is not particularly fine, but his sharp, little 
black horns are great trophies for the hunter, and 
are carved into spoon handles by the expert crafts- 
men of all the Thlinket tribes. 


The cool waters of Glacier Bay, filled with floating 
ice, are the great summer resort for the wary sea otter 
and the hair seal. The fur seal is occasionally found, 
but not in such numbers as to make it a feature of 
the hunting season ; and as the pelts are stretched 
and dried before being brought in by the Indians, 
they are valueless to the furrier. The Hooniahs 
inhabiting this bay and the shores of Cross Sound 
and Icy Straits claim the monopoly of the seal 


and otter fisheries, and have had great wars with the 
other tribes who ventured into their hunting grounds. 
Indians even came up from British Columbia, and a 
few years ago the Hooniahs invoked the aid of the 
man-of-war to drive away the trespassing " King 
George men." 

The seal is food, fuel, and raiment to them, and 
square wooden boxes of seal oil stand in every 
Hooniah tent. Age increases its qualities for them, 
and rancid seal oil and dried salmon, salmon eggs, 
or herring roe, mixed with oil, and a salad of sea- 
weed dressed with oil, are the national dishes of all 
the Thlinket tribes. Boiled seal flippers are a great 
dainty, and in one Hooniah tent we peered into the 
family kettle, and saw the black flippers waving in 
the simmering waters like human hands. It looked 
like cannibalism, but the old man who was superin- 
tending the stew said : " Seal ! Seal all same as hog.** 
The Chinook term for seal is coc/io Siwashy or, liter- 
ally, " Indian hog," and it quite corresponds to 
American pork in its universal use. 

In one smoky tent, a native silversmith was hard 
at work, pounding from half dollar pieces the silver 
bracelets which are the chief and valued ornaments 
of the Thlinket women. This Tiffany of the Hooniah 
tribe nodded to us amiably, carefully examined the 
workmanship of the bracelets we wore, and then 
went on to show us how they were made. We sat 
fascinated for nearly an hour in the thick smoke that 
blew in every direction from the fire, to watch this 
artist make bracelets with only the rudest implements. 
He first put the coin in an iron spoon and set it on 
the coals for some minutes, and when he drew out 


the spoon, and took the silver disk between a pair of 
old pincers, he nodded his head to us and muttered 
Klimmui — the Chinook word for soft. Holding it 
with the pincers, he hammered it on an old piece 
of iron, and heating it, turning it, and pounding away 
vigorously, he soon laid a long slender strip of silver 
before us. Another heating, a deft hammering and 
polishing, and the bracelet was ready to be engraved 
with a clumsy steel point in simple geometrical 
designs, or with the conventionalized dog-fish, salmon, 
seals, and whales of Hooniah art. After that it was 
heated and bent into shape to fit the wrist. 

For these Klickwillies, or bracelets, the white 
visitors were asked three dollars a pair, while the 
native rule is to pay the silversmith just twice the 
value of the coins used. He was an amiable old 
fellow, this Hooniah silversmith, and he kept no 
secrets of his art from us, bringing out finger rings, 
nose rings, long silver lip pins, and earrings to 
show us. The Indian women in his tent were well 
bedecked with silver ornaments, and if all three of 
them were his wives, the silversmith's trade must be a 
profitable one. Each women had her wrists covered 
with rows of closely fitting bracelets, always in odd 
numbers, and double rows of rings were on their 
fingers. The men of these tribes sport the nose 
ring as well as the women, and are not satisfied with 
wearing one pair of earrings at a time, but pierce 
the rim of the ear with a succession of holes, and 
wear in each one a silver hoop, a bead, or a charm, in 
memory of some particular deed. 

The Hooniahs are next to the Haidas in skill and 
intelligence, and in the graves of their medicine men 



are found carvings on bone, and fossil ivory, moun- 
tain goat horns, and shells, that prove that they 
once possessed even greater skill in these things. 
On the grave cloth of one shaman buried near a vil- 
lage on Cross Sound, were lately found some flat 
pieces of ivory and bone, four and six inches long, 
carved with faces and totemic symbols, AgQ had 
turned them to a deep rich yellow and browa, and a 
slight rubbing restored the brilliant polish, that 
enhanced them when they were first sewed to the 
blankets and wrappings of the dead shaman/» His 
rattles, masks, drums, and implements of his profes- 
sion, buried with him, were of the finest workmanship, 
and proved the superiority of the ancient carvers. 

The Hooniah women weave baskets from the fine 
bark of the cedar and from split spruce roots, and 
ornament them with geometrical patterns in brilliant 
colors, but the weaving that we saw was not as fine 
as that of some of the more southern tribes. 




WHEN Dick Willoughby told of the great gla- 
cier thirty miles up the bay, the thud of 
whose falling ice could be heard and felt at his house, 
and declared that it once rattled the tea-cups on his 
table, and sent a wave washing high up on his shore, 
the captain of the Ida/io said he would go there, 
and took this Dick Willoughby along to find the place 
and prove the tale. Away we went coursing up 
Glacier Bay, a fleet of one hundred and twelve little 
icebergs gayly sailing out to meet us, as we left our 
anchorage the next morning. Entering into these 
unknown and unsurveyed waters, the lead was cast 
through niiles of bottomless channels, and when the 
ship neared a green and mountainous island at the 
mouth of the bay, the captain and the pilot made me 
an unconditional present of the domain, and duly 
entered it on the ship's log by name. It is just off 
Garden Point, and for a summer resort Scidmore 
Island possesses unusual advantages. Heated and 
suffering humanity is invited to visit that emerald 
spot in latitude 58° 29' north, and longitude 135° 52' 
west from Greenwich, and enjoy the July temper- 
ature of 45°, the seal and salmon fishing, the fine 
hunting, and the sight of one of the grandest of the 


many great glaciers that break directly into the sea 
along the Alaska coast. 

The gray-green water, filled with sediment, told 
that, glaciers were near, and icebergs, from the size of 
a house down to the merest lumps, circled around us, 
showing the ineffable shades of pale greens and 
blues, and clinking together musically as the steamer 
passed by. The tides rush fiercely in and out of 
Glacier Bay, and heavy fogs add to the dangers of 
navigation, and Captain Beardslee and Major Morris, 
who entered it in the little steamer Favorite in 1 880, 
were obliged to put back without making any explora- 
tions. The charts as they now appear are very 
faulty, the sketches having been made from informa- 
tion given by Mr. Willoughby and Indian seal hunters, 
and from brief notes furnished by Professor Muir. 
At the head of every inlet around the great bay there 
are glaciers, and Mr. Willoughby said that in five of 
these fiords there are glaciers a mile and a half wide, 
with vertical fronts of seamed ice rising two hundred 
and four hundred feet from the water. In one of 
them a small island divides the ice cataract, and 
Niagara itself is repeated in this glacial corner of the 
north. At low tide, bergs and great sections of the 
fronts fall off into the water, and Glacier Bay is filled 
with this debris of the glaciers, that floats out from 
every inlet and is swept to and fro with the tides. 

Dick Willoughby stood on the bridge with the 
navigators, and gave them the benefit of his expe- 
rience. After a while he came back to the group 
of ladies on deck, and, sitting down, shook his head 
seriously and said : — 

" You ladies are very brave to venture up in such 



a place. If you only knew the risks you are running 
— the clangers you are in ! " And the pioneer's voice 
had a tone of the deepest concern as he said it. 

We received this with some laughter, and expressed 
entire confidence in the captain and pilot, who had 
penetrated glacial fastnesses and unknown waters 
before. A naval officer on board echoed the Wil- 
loughby strain, and declared that a commander would 
never attempt to take a man-of-war into such a dan- 
gerous place, and deprecated Captain Carroll's daring 
and rashness. The merchant marine was able to 


retaliate when this naval comment was repeated, and 
Glacier Bay was suggested as the safest place for a 
government vessel's cruise, on account of the entire 
absence of schooners. 

The lead was cast constantly, and the Idaho veered 
gracefully from right to left, went slowly, and stopped 
at times, to avoid the ice floes that bore down upon 
it with the outgoing tide. Feeling the way along 
carefully, the anchor was cast beside a grounded ice- 
berg, and the photographers were rowed off to a 
small island to take the view of the ship in the midst. 
of that Arctic scenery. Mount Crillon showed his 
hoary head to us in glimpses between the clouds, 


and then, rounding Willoughby Island, which the 
owner declares is solid marble of a quality to rival 
that of Pentelicus and Carrara, we saw the full front 
of the great Muir Glacier, where it dips down and 
breaks into the sea, at the end of an inlet five miles 

The inlet and the glacier were named for Professor 
John Muir, the Pacific coast geologist, who, as far as 
known, was the first white man to visit and explore 
the glaciers of the bay. Professor Muir went up 
Glacier Bay, with the Rev. S. Hall Young, of Fort 
Wrangell, as a companion, in 1879. They travelled 
by canoe, and Professor Muir, strapping a blanket on 
his back, and filling his pockets with hard tack, started 
off unarmed, and spent days of glacial delight in the 
region. These were the only white men who had 
preceded us, when Captain Carroll took the Idaho up 
the bay in 1883, on what was quite as good as a real 
voyage of exploration. 

Of all scenes and natural objects, nothing could be 
grander and more impressive than the first view up 
the inlet, with the front of the great glacier, the 
slope of the glacial field, and the background of lofty 
mountains united in one picture. Mount Crillon and 
Mount Fairweather stood as sentries across the bay, 
showing their summits fifteen thousand feet in air, 
clear cut as silhouettes against the sky, and the still- 
ness of the air was broken only by faint, metallic, 
tinkling sounds, as the ice floes ground together, and 
the waters washed up under the honeycombed edges 
of the floating bergs. Steaming slowly up the inlet, 
the bold, cliff-like front of the glacier grew in height 
as we approached it, and there was a sense of awe as 


the ship drew near enough for us to hear the strange, 
continual rumbling of the subterranean or subglacial 
waters, and see the avalanches of ice that, break- 
ing from the front, rushed down into the sea with 
tremendous crashes and roars. Estim.ates of the 
height of the ice cliff increased with nearness, and 
from a first guess of fifty feet, there succeeded those 
of two hundred and four hundred feet, which the 
authority of angles has since proven as correct. 

The Idaho was but an eighth of a mile from the 
front of the glacier, when the anchor was cast in 
eighty-four fathoms of water at low tide, and near us, 
in the midst of these deep soundings, icebergs loaded 
with boulders lay grounded, with forty feet of their 
summits above water. Words and dry figures can 
give one little idea of the grandeur of this glacial 
torrent flowing steadily and solidly into the sea, and 
the beauty of the fantastic ice front, shimmering with 
all the prismatic hues, is beyond imagery or descrip- 

According to Professor Muir, the glacier measures 
three miles across the snout, or front, where it breaks 
off into the sea. Ten miles back it is ten miles wide, 
and sixteen tributary glaciers unite to form this one 
great ice-river. Professor Muir ascended to the 
glacier field from the north side, and, following its 
edges for six miles, climbed the high mountain around 
which the first tributary debouches from that side. 
He gives the distance from the snout of the glacier 
to its furthest source in the great neve, or snow-fields, 
as forty miles. Detailed accounts of Professor Muir's 
canoe journeys in glacier land were given in his 
letters to the San Francisco Bulletin, and they 


abound in the most beautiful and poetic descriptions 
of the scenery. His paper on "The Glaciation of 
the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions, visited by the 
U. S. S. Corwm in the year 1881," accompanies the 
report of Captain C. L. Hooper, U. S. R. M., published 
by the government printing office at Washington in 
1885, and contains Professor Muir's observations and 
deductions upon the glaciation of the whole Pacific 
coast from California to the Arctic. 

No attempt has yet been made to measure the rate 
of progress of the Muir glacier, although Captain 
Carroll has several times promised himself to stake 
off and mark points on the main trunk, and note 
their positions from month to month during the 
summer. Mr. Willoughby said that the Indians told 
him that two years previously the line of the ice wall 
was a half mile further down the inlet, and that 
in their grandfathers' time it extended as far as 
Willoughby Island, five miles below. The old mo- 
raine that forms the bar at the mouth of the bay is 
sufficient evidence to scientists that the ice sheet 
covered the whole bay within what Professor Muir 
calls "a very short geological time ago." The 
Hooniah goat-hunters told Mr. Willoughby that the 
first tributary glacier connected with the Davidson 
glacier in Lynn Canal, and that they often made the 
journey across it to the Chilkat country. Kloh-Kutz 
told Professor Davidson that it was a one day's 
journey on snowshoes — about thirty miles — over 
to this bay of great glaciers, and thirty days' journey 
thence, through a region of high mountains and snow 
fields, to the ocean at the foot of the Mount St. Elias 


The vast, desolate stretch of gray ice visible across 
the top of the serrated wall of ice that faced us had 
a strange fascination, and the crack of the rending 
ice, the crash of the falling fragments, and a steady 
undertone like the boom of the great Yosemite Fall, 
added to the inspiration and excitement. There was 
something, too, in the consciousness that so few had 
ever gazed upon the scene before us, and there were 
neither guides nor guide books to tell us which way 
to go, and what emotions to feel. 

We left the stewards cutting ice from the grounded 
bergs near the ship, and, putting off in the lifeboats, 
landed in the ravine on the north side of the glacier. 
We scrambled over two miles of sand and boulders, 
along the steep, crumbling banks of a roaring river, 
until we reached the arch under the side of the 
glacier from which the muddy torrent poured. Near 
that point, on the loose moraine at the side, there was 
the remnant of a buried forest, with the stumps of 
old cedar-trees standing upright in groups. They 
were stripped of their bark, and cut off six and ten 
feet above the surface, and pieces of wood were 
scattered all through the debris of this moraine. 
The disforesting of the shores of Glacier Bay is the 
mystery that baffles Professor Muir, as on all this 
densely wooded coast, this one bay lacks the thick 
carpet of moss and the forests that elsewhere conceal 
the evidences of glacial action. Patches of crimson 
epilobium covered the ground in spots, and flourished 
among the boulders at the edge of the ice sheet, 
where only a thin layer of dirt covers buried ice. 

Reaching the sloping side of the ice-field, we 
mounted, and went down a mile over the seamed 



and ragged surface towards the broken ice of the 
water front. The ice was a dirty gray underfoot, 
but it crackled with a pleasant mid-winter sound, and 
the wind blew keen and sharp from over the untrod- 
den miles of the glacier field. The gurgle and hollow 
roar of the subterranean waters came from deep rifts 
in the broken surface, and in the centre and towards 
the front of the glacier, the ice was tossed and broken 
like the waves of an angry sea. The amateur photo- 
graphers turned their cameras to right and left, risked 
their necks in the deep ravines and hollows in the 
ice, and climbed the surrounding points to get satis- 
factory views. Every one gathered a pocketful of 
rounded rocks and pebbles, and shreds of ancient 
cedar trees carried down by the ice flood, and then, 
having worn rubber shoes and boots to tatters on the 
sharp ice, and sunk many times in the treacherous 
glacier mud, we reluctantly obeyed the steamer's 
whistle and cannon-shot, and started back to the 

A nearer sweep towards the long ice-cliff showed 
that the line of the front was broken into bays and 
points, the middle of the glacier jutting far out into 
the water, and the sides sweeping back in curves, as 
the cliffs decreased in height, and finally sloped down 
to the level of the side moraines. At points along 
the front, subterranean rivers boiled up, and, in the 
deep blue crevasses, cascades ran down over icy beds. 
In the full sunlight the front of the glacier was a daz- 
zling wall of silver and snowy ice, gleaming with all 
the rainbow colors, and disclosing fresh beauties 
as each new crevasse or hollow came in sight. 

A magnificent sunset flooded the sky that night. 


and filled every icy ravine with rose and orange 
lights. At the last view of the glacier, as we 
steamed away from it, the whole brow was glorified 
and transfigured with the fires of sunset ; the blue 
and silvery pinnacles, the white and shining front 
floating dreamlike on a roseate and amber sea, and 
the range and circle of dull violet mountains lifting: 
their glowing summits into a sky flecked with crim- 
son and gold. 

It was a chill, misty morning, a year later, when the 
watch again sighted '' Scidmore Island, one mile off 
the starboard beam," and its long, green undulating 
shore was visible through the rain. Entering Muir 
Inlet, the Ancon went cautiously through the floating 
ice and anchored in the curve of the south end of the 
glacier's front, but a few hundred yards from a long 
shelving beach that would have shone with its golden 
sand in sunli^^ht. There were the same deep sound- 
ings near the front, as on the other side of the 
inlet, but the Ancoiis anchor was dropped nearer the 
moraine shore, where the lead gave only twenty-five 

Under the dull gray sky all dazzling effects of 
prismatic light were lost, but the fretted and fantastic 
front showed lines and masses of the purest white 
and an infinite range of blues. Avalanches of crum- 
bling ice and great pieces of the front were continually 
falling with the roar and crash of artillery, revealing 
new caverns and rifts of deeper blue light, while 
the spray dashed high and the great waves rolled 
along the icy wall, and, widening in their sweep, 
washed the blocks of floating ice up on the beaches 
at either side. The ship's cannon was loaded and 


fired twice point blank at the front of the glacier. 
The report was followed by a second of silence, and 
then an echo came back that intensified the first rins: 
many times, and was followed by a long, sharp roll as 
the echo was flung from cavern to cavern in the ice. 

The small boats landed us on a beach strewn with 
ice cakes, and lines of stranded shrimps marked the 


wash of the waves raised by the falling ice. Some 
shrimps two and three inches long were found, but 
the most of them were delicate little pink things not 
an inch in length. The crimson epilobium blossoms 
nodded to us from every slope and hollow of the long 
lateral moraine that lay between the water and the 
high mountain walls. Over sand and boulders, and 
across a roaring stream that issued from the side of 
the glacier, the pilgrims crept to the foot of the slope. 


and then up a long incline of boulders and dirty ice 
to a first level where they could look out over the 
frozen waste and across the broken front. Deep 
crevasses seamed the ice plain in every direction, as 
on the north side of the frozen river ; but, although 
the view is not so extended as on the other side, the 
level of the ice field is reached more easily, and it is a 
steep but only a short climb up over the buried 
ice to the top of the glacier. The treacherous gray 
glacier mud — ** the mineral paste, and mountain meal " 
of Prof. Muir — engulfed one at every careless step, 
and rocks would sink under one, and land even the 
high-booted pilgrims knee-deep in the fine, sticky 
compound. A half-mile from what appeared to be 
the bank of the frozen river, there was clear solid 
ice underlying the rocks and mud, and occasionally 
caves in this side wall enticed the breathless ones to 
rest themselves in the pale shadows of the glacier 
ice. Fragments and rounded pebbles of red and 
gray granite, limestone, marble, schistose slate, 
porphyry and quartz were picked up on the way, 
and many of the bits of quartz and marble were deeply 
stained with iron. The Polish mining engineer with 
the party assured us that all Glacier Bay was rich in 
the indications of a great silver-belt, and held up car- 
bonates, sulphates, and sulphurets to prove his asser- 

From this south-side landing we easily approached 
the base of the ice cliffs by following up the beach to 
the ravine that cut into the ice at the edge of the 
moraine. We got a far better idea of the height 
and solidity of the walls by standing like pigmies in 
the shadow of the lofty front, and looking up to the 


grottoes and clefts in the cobalt and indigo cliff. It 
was dry and firm on the beach, and the golden sand 
was strewn with dripping bergs of sapphire and 
aquamarine that had been swept ashore by the 
spreading waves. These huge blocks of ice on the 
beach, that had looked like dice from the ship, were 
found to be thirty and forty feet long and twenty 
feet high. 

The nearer one approached, the higher the ice walls 
seemed, and all along the front there were pinnacles 
and spires weighing several tons, that seemed on the 
point of toppling every moment. The great but- 
tresses of ice that rose first from the water and 
touched the moraine were as solidly white as marble, 
veined and streaked with rocks and mud, but further 
on, as the pressure was greater, the color slowly 
deepened to turquoise and sapphire blues. The 
crashes of falling ice were magnificent at that point, 
and in the face of a keen wind that blew over the ice- 
field we sat on the rocks and watched the wondrous 
scene. The gloomy sky seemed to heighten the 
grandeur, and the billows of gray mist, pouring over 
the mountains on either side, intensified the sense of 
awe and mystery. The tide was running out all of 
the afternoon hours that we spent there, and the 
avalanches of ice were larger and more frequent all 
of the time. When the anchor was lifted, the ship 
took a great sweep up nearer to the glacier's front, 
and as we steamed away there were two grand 
crashes, and great sections of the front fell off with 
deafening roars into the water. We steamed slowly 
down the inlet, and out into Glacier Bay, stopping, 
backing, and going at half speed to avoid the floating 


ice all around us, that occasionally was ground and 
crunched up by the paddle-wheels with a most un- 
comfortable sound. With each thump from the ice, 
and the recurrence of the noise in the paddle-box, 
and then the sight of some red slats floating off on 
the water, Dick Willoughby's concern was remem- 
bered ; and the advantages of the screw propeller, 
and the merits of the favorite and original Idahoy 
were appreciated. 

While we cruised away in the mist and twilight, 
the children, who never could be made to keep ordi- 
nary bedtime in that latitude, celebrated the birthday 
of one of their number with high revel. While they 
danced around the cake on the cabin table, and blew 
out the eight candles one by one with an accompany- 
ing wish, the last boy wished that the happy youngster 
might ''celebrate many more birthdays in Glacier 
Bay," and the elders applauded him. 

After the Idaho had made its first visit to the 
Muir Glacier, and returned Dick Willoughby to his 
Hooniah home and his strawberry farm, we had a 
seven hours' enforced anchorage, on the succeeding 
day, in a narrow fiord on the north end of Chicagoff 
Island, which that same Willoughby had described 
as an unknown channel, "a hole in the mountain," 
and a short cut to the open ocean, that he had trav- 
elled many times himself. Following up his forty- 
fathom channel, the lead marked shoaling waters, and 
before we knew it the Idaho ran her nose on a 
sloping bank, and stayed there until the returning 
tide floated her off. 

There had not been a canoe in sight, nor a sign of 
life along the shores all that morning, but the ship's 


officers had hardly settled the fact that they were 
hard aground before several canoes were seen in the 
wake, and the gangway was surrounded with bargain- 
ing Hooniahs, who held up furs, baskets, and trophies 
for us to buy. More and more of them came pad- 
dling down the narrow lane of emerald water, and 
family groups in red blankets were soon at home 
around blazing camp fires on the narrow ledges of 
the shore, and added greatly to the picturesqueness 
of the scene. Of all the little fiords we had been 
into, this one was the most beautiful, and even Naha 
Bay cannot surpass it. The narrow channel has 
steep, wooded hills on either side, and a rugged, 
snow-covered mountain stands sentry at the head 
of the fiord, and the clear, green water was so still 
that every tree and twig was clearly reflected; the 
ship rested double, and the breasts of the soaring 
eagles were mirrored in all the shadings of their 
plumage. The silence was profound, and every voice 
or sound on deck was echoed from the mountains, 
and could be heard for a long distance up the inlet. 
Had it not been for the Hooniah canoes following so 
promptly, we might have supposed ourselves ex- 
plorers, who had penetrated into some enchanted 
region, or dreamers who were seeing this beauti- 
ful valley in a strange sleep. It was exploration to 
the extent that all our course up the inlet was across 
the dry land of all the charts then published, and the 
Idaho was aground in the woods according to the 
authorized maps. 

This Idaho Inlet, as it is now put down, is the 
sportsman's long-sought paradise. The stewards, who 
went ashore with the tank-boats for fresh water, 


startled seven deer as they pushed their way to the 
foot of a cascade, and the young men who went off in 
an Indian canoe caught thirteen large salmon with 
their inexperienced spearing. Mr. Wallace, the first 
officer, took a party off in the ship's small boats, and 
we swept gayly up the inlet, over waters where the 
salmon and flounders could be seen darting in schools 
through the water and just escaping the strokes of 
the oar. At the mouth of the creek at the head of 
the inlet, the freshening current was alive with fish, 
and some of the energetic ones landed there, and, 
pushing ahead for exploration, were soon lost to sight 
in the high grass and the underbrush that fringed the 
forest. It began to rain about that time, and a drip- 
ping group remained by the boats, watching the rain- 
bow fish playing in the waters, and enjoying the dry 
Scotch humor of the officer, who had led us off on 
this water picnic. Clouds rolled over our snow-capped 
mountain and blurred the landscape, and after an 
hour of quietly sitting in the rain, even the amphibi- 
ous Scot began to wish, too, that the wanderers would 
return, lest the falling tide should leave us on the 
wrong side of the shallows at the mouth of the creek. 
As he took a less humorous view of the situation, all 
the rest joined in the strain and began to berate the 
Alaska climate with its constant downpour. Some 
one was impelled to ask the genial Scotchman if it 
was really true that the summit of Ben Nevis is never 
seen oftener than twice a year. He nearly upset the 
boat to refute that slander, and his emphatic " No ! " 
may be still ringing and echoing around the north 
end of Chicagoff Island. 

After the first officer had returned his boatloads of 


damp but enthusiastic passengers to the ship, the 
stories of fish, and boasts of the great bear-tracks 
seen on shore, disturbed the tranquillity of the anchor- 
age. The captain of the ship took his rifle and was 
rowed away to shallow waters, where he shot a salmon, 
waded in, and threw it ashore. While wandering along 
after the huge bear-tracks, that were twelve inches 
long by affidavit measure, he saw an eagle flying off 
with his salmon, and another fine shot laid the bird of 
freedom low. When the captain returned to the ship 
he threw the eagle and the salmon on deck, and at 
the size of the former every one marvelled. The out- 
spread wings measured the traditional six feet from tip 
to tip, and the beak, the claws, and the stiff feathers 
were rapidly seized upon as trophies and souvenirs 
of the day. A broad, double rainbow arched over us 
as we left the lovely niche between the mountains in 
the evening, and then we swept back to Icy Straits 
and started out to the open ocean, and down the 
coast to Sitka, having a glimpse, on the way, of the 
vast glacier at the head of Taylor Bay, that Van- 
couver and his men visited while his ships lay at 
anchor in Port Althorp, just west of our Idaho Inlet. 




AT six o'clock in the morning the water lay 
still and motionless as we rounded the point 
from which Mount Edgecombe lifts its hazy blue 
slopes, and threaded our way between clearly re- 
flected islands into this beautiful harbor, which is the 
most northern on the Pacific Coast. In the mirror 
of calm waters the town lay in shimmering reflec- 
tions, and the wooded side of Mount Verstovaia, that 
rises sentinel over Sitka, was reflected as a dark 
green pyramid that slowly receded and shortened as 
the ship neared the shore. By old traditions the 
ravens always gather on the gilded cross on the dome 
of the Greek church when a ship is in sight, and one 
lone, early riser flapped his big black wings and 
croaked the signal before the ship's cannon started 
the echoes. A steam launch put out quickly from 
the man-of-war Adams to carry the mail bags to that 
ship, and a sleepy postmaster came down to look after 
his consignments. There were signs of life in the In- 
dian village, or rancherie, further up shore, and one by 
one the natives assembled on the wharf with their bas- 
kets and bracelets for sale, or, wandering down with 
the blankets of the couch wrapped about them, and 
lying face downward with their heads propped on 


their hands, yawned and studied the scene. They 
sprawled there like seals, and some of the members of 
this leisure class remained on the wharf for hours and 
for nearly all day without stirring. 

The queer and out-of-the-way capital of our latest 
Territory seemed quite a metropolis after the un- 
broken wilderness we had been journeying through, 
and the rambling collection of weather-beaten and 
moss-covered buildings that have survived from Rus- 
sian days, and the government buildings, in their coats 
of yellow-brown paint, smote us with a sense of 
urban vastness and importance. . At a first look 
Sitka wears the air and dignity of a town with a his- 
tory, and can reflect upon the brilliant good old days 
of Russian rule, to which fifteen years of American 
occupancy have only given more lustre by contrast. 
It is a straggling, peaceful sort of a town, edging 
along shore at the foot of high mountains, and shel- 
tered from the surge and turmoil of the ocean by 
a sea-wall of rocky, pine-covered islands. The moss 
has grown greener and thicker on the roofs of the 
solid old wooden houses that are relics of Russian 
days, the paint has worn thinner everywhere, and 
a few more houses tumbling into ruins complete 
the scenes of picturesque decay. Twenty years ago 
there were one hundred and twenty-five buildings in 
the town proper, and it is doubtful if a dozen have been 
erected since. The aesthetic soul can revel in the 
cool, quiet tones of weather-worn and lichen-stained 
walls, and never be vexed with the sight of raw boards, 
shingles, and shavings in this far northern capital. A 
gravelled road leads straight from the wharf to the 
front of the Greek church, the board walk beside it 


painted with lines of white on either edge, to guide 
the wayfarer's steps on the pitch-dark nights, that set 
in so early and last so long during the winter season. 
The barracks, the custom house and the gov- 
ernor's castle form a group of public buildings on 
the right of the landing-wharf, and the small battery 
at the foot of the castle terrace is quite imposing. 
The castle is a heavy, plain, square building, crowning 
a rocky headland that rises precipitously from the 
water on three sides, and turns a bold embankment 
to the town on the other. According to Captain 
Meade, this eminence was called Katalan's Rock by 
the early Russian settlers, in memory of the chief 
who lived on it, and the governors made it a perfect 
fortress, with batteries and outer defences and sentries 
at all the approaches. This colonial castle is in lati- 
tude only ly' north of Queen Victoria's summer home 
at Balmoral. Two buildings have crowned Katalan's 
Rock before the present one, the first rude block- 
house being destroyed by fire, and the second one 
by an earthquake. The castle is one hundred and 
forty feet long and seventy feet wide, built of heavy 
cedar logs, while copper bolts pierce the walls at 
points, and are riveted to the rock to hold it fast 
in the event of another earthquake. The Russian 
governors of the colony resided in the castle, and 
many traditions of social splendor hang to this forlorn 
and abandoned old building. The Russian governors 
were usually chosen from the higher ranks of the 
naval service and of noble families at home. These 
captain-counts, barons, and princes deputed to rule 
the colony maintained a miniature court around them, 
and lived and entertained handsomely. Lutke, Sir 


Edward Belcher, Sir George Simpson, and other 
voyagers of the early part of this century, give 
charming pictures of the social life at Sitka. State 
dinners were given by the governor every Sunday, 
and a round of balls and gayeties made a visitor's stay 
all too pleasant. 

Baron Wrangell's wife was the first chatelaine 
of the castle who left a social fame. She was 
succeeded in her pleasant rule by the wife of Gov- 
ernor Kupreanoff, who accompanied her husband to 
Sitka in 1835, crossing Siberia on horseback to 
Behring Sea. It was Madame Kupreanoff who en- 
tertained Captain Belcher, and after a line of many 
charming women there came the second wife of 
Prince Maksoutoff, a beautiful chatelaine, who made 
the castle the abode of a gracious hospitality, and left 
many social traditions to attest her tact and charm. 
Society was more democratic in her days than it has 
been at any time since, and the noble Russian hostess 
overlooked rank and class, and welcomed all to the 
castle on an equality. The admiral of the fleet and 
the pilot were on the same social plane while under 
the governor's roof, and at a ball the governor made 
it his duty to lead out every lady, and the princess 
danced with every one who solicited the honor, no 
matter how humble his station. Caviare and strons: 
punches marked every banquet board, and at the be- 
ginning of a ball the ladies were first invited out by 
themselves to partake of strong and pungent appe- 
tizers, and then the gentlemen gathered around the 
side tables and took their tonics. A big brass 
samovar was always boiling in the drawing-room, and 
day or night a glass of the choicest caravan tea was 


offered to visitors. Some beautiful samovars were 
brought out from Russia by the famiHes of the higher 
officers, and after the brass foundry was established, 
they were manufactured at Sitka. Some of these old 
Sitka samovars are still to be found by the curio- 
hunters, and, as they grow rarer, they are the more 
"Tiighly prized. 

The governors brought all their household goods 
with them from Russia; and surrounded themselves 
with comfort and luxury. The castle was richly 
furnished, the walls of the drawing-room were 
lined with mirrors, and its interior appointments 
were all that Muscovite ideas could suggest. When 
it was turned over to the United States as govern- 
ment property seventeen years ago, the castle was 
well furnished and in perfect condition, but after the 
troops left, it was neglected like everything else, and 
has been stripped, despoiled, and defaced. Every porta- 
ble thing has been carried off, the curiously wrought 
brass chandeliers, the queer knobs and branching 
hinges on the doors, and all but the massive porcelain 
stoves in the corners of the large apartments. The 
lantern, and even the reflector, that used to send bea- 
cons to the mariner from the castle tower, have gone, 
and the place is little better than a ruin. The hall 
where the governors received and entertained the In- 
dian chiefs is a rubbish hole ; of the carved railing that 
fenced off a little boudoir in the great drawing-room, 
not a vestige remains ; and not a relic is left of the 
old billiard-room to prove that it ever existed. 

The signal officer has rescued two rooms on the 
ground floor for his use, but otherwise the only 
tenant of the castle is the ghost of a beautiful Rus- 



sian, whose sad story is closely modelled on that of 
the Bride of Lammermoor. She haunts the drawing- 
room, the northwest chamber, where she was mur« 
dered, and paces the governor's cabinet, where the 
swish of her ghostly wedding-gown chills every listen- 
er's blood. Twice a year she walks unceasingly and 
wrings her jewelled hands. 

At Easter time she wanders with sorrowful mien 
from room to room, and leaves a faint perfume as of 
wild roses where she passes. Innumerable young 
officers from the men-of-war have nerved up their 
spirits and gone to spend a solitary night in the 
castle, but none have yet held authentic converse 
with the beautiful spirit, and learned the true story of 
her unresting sorrow. By tradition, the lady in black 
was the daughter of one of the old governors. On 
her wedding night she disappeared from the ball-room 
in the midst of the festivities, and after long search 
was found dead in one of the small drawing-rooms. 
Being forced to marry against her will, one belief 
was that she voluntarily took poison, while another 
version ascribes the deed to an unhappy lover ; while, 
altogether, the tale of this Lucia of the northwest 
isles gives just the touch of sentimental interest to 
this castle of the Russian governors. The Russian 
residents cannot identify this ghost with any mem- 
ber of the governors' families, and say that the whole 
thing has been concocted within a few years to keep 
sailors and marauders away at night, and to entertain 
the occasional tourist. 

The room is pointed out in the castle that was 
occupied by Secretary Seward during his visit, and 
the same guest-chamber has an additional interest in 


the memory of Lady Franklin's visit. It is possible 
that with the arrival of a territorial governor the 
castle may again become an official residence ; and if 
repaired and restored to its original condition, it could 
be made quite a pleasant place. 

The Custom House building also shelters the post- 
master, whose office, not being a salaried one, does 
not offer great temptations to any aspiring citizens as 
yet. His compensation was a little over one hundred 
dollars for the last year, and by the quarterly 
accounts, which all the Alaska postmasters are dilatory 
about sending to the department, the Sitka post- 
office has only about the same amount of business 
as the Juneau and Wrangell offices. 

A detachment of marines from the man-of-war in 
the harbor was quartered in the old barracks at the 
opposite side of the steps leading down from the castle 
terrace. Every morning while we were there, about 
eight men went through guard mount and inspection 
with as much military precision and form as if a com- 
pany or regiment were deploying on the parade ground. 
The houses that were used for officers' quarters during 
the time that a garrison was maintained were burned 
by the Indians, after the soldiers were withdrawn, and 
there is a blank on that side of the green quadrangle. 
The Indian village is reached through a gate in the 
stockade fence at one side of the parade ground, and 
in the Russian days the gate was closed every night, 
and the Indians obliged to remain outside until morn- 
ing. Under United States rule they have been per- 
mitted to roam as they pleased, and during the time be- 
tween the withdrawal of the troops and the arrival of a 
naval ship, they held the inhabitants at their mercy. 



The buildings on the main street are all heavy log 
houses, some of them clapboarded over, and a few of 
them whitewashed, but decay has seized upon many, 
and their roofs are sinking under the weight of moss. 
Both at the Northwest Trading Company's store on 
the wharf, and in the large, rambling stores on this 


Street, there were curios by the roomful, and every- 
thing from canoes to nose rings were to be seen. 
Though the prices were higher, as befits a capital, 
the Sitka traders had the most tempting arrays of 
carved and painted woodwork, and baskets, and 
bracelets in endless designs. 

At the end of the main street, fronting on the small 
square or court, stands the Russian Orthodox Church 


of St. Michael. It has the green roof, the bulging 
spire, the fine clock, and the chime of bells, that might 
distinguish any shrine in Moscow. In these days of 
its decadence, much of the glory has been stripped 
from the Sitka church, and the faded walls and roof, 
almost destitute of paint, tell a sad tale. It was once 
a cathedral, presided over by a resident bishop, and 
when dedicated in 1844, the venerable Ivan Venian- 
imoff, Metropolite of Moscow, who had labored for 
years as priest and bishop at Ounalaska and Sitka, 
sent richest vestments, plate, and altar furnishings to 
this church. Since the purchase of Alaska by the 
United States, the richer and better class of Russians 
have left, and there are only three families of pure Rus- 
sian blood to worship in the church. Of the Creoles, 
or half-breeds, the emancipated serfs, and the con- 
verted natives, who once crowded the church on Sun- 
days and saints' days, not a third remain, and decreas- 
ing numbers bow before the altar of St. Michael's 
each year. 

The Russian government, in its protectorate over 
the Greek church, assumes the expenses of the 
churches at Sitka, Ounalaska, and Kodiak, and about 
^50,000 are expended annually for their support. 
With the diminishing congregations, it is merely a 
question of time when the Alaska priests will be 
recalled, as the abandonment of the Russian chapel 
in New York is significant of the coming change. 

After the transfer of the territory, the Russian 
bishop moved his residence to San Francisco, and, 
taking charge of the chapel there, made annual visits 
to the Sitka, Kodiak, and Ounalaska churches. The 
last incumbent of the office, Bishop Nestor, was lost 


overboard while returning from Ounalaska to San 
Francisco in May, 1883, and at Moscow no one has 
been found willing to be sent out to this diocese. 
Father Mitropolski, now in charge with one assistant, 
was formerly at the Koc.iak church. 

The exterior of the church is not imposing, as 
the paint has worn and flaked off the walls, and the 
panelled picture of St. Michael over the doorway is 
dim and faded. The chime of six sweet-toned bells 
in the tower were sent from Moscow as a gift, and 
they retain their clear and vibrant tones, and still ring 
out the hours. Our watches, that had been keeping 
Astoria or ship's time, were forty-five minutes ahead 
of the true local time indicated by the ornamental 
dial of the church clock, and for the first time we 
realized that the ship had veered to the westward 
considerably while apparently going due north. A 
more serious difference of time had to be contended 
with at the time of the transfer, as the Russian Sab- 
bath, which came eastward from Moscow, did not 
correspond to the same day of the week in our 
calendar travelling westward. It took official nego- 
tiations to settle this difference and set aside the old 
Julian calendar. 

The interior of the cruciform church is richly dec- 
orated in white and gold. In either transept are side 
altars, and the main altar is reached through a pair of 
open-work bronze doors set with silver images of the 
saints. In this inner sanctuary no woman is allowed 
to tread, and on the smaller altars there the richest 
treasures of the church are kept. Over the bronze 
doors is a large picture of the Last Supper, the faces 
painted on ivory, and the figures draped in robes of 


silver. On either side are large paintings of the saints, 
covered with robes and draperies of the same beaten 
silver, and the halos, surrounding their heads, of gold 
and silver set with brilliants. Heavy chandeliers and 
silver lamps hang from the ceiling, and tall candle- 
sticks and censers are before the pictured saints. 


There is a small chapel in the north transept, where 
services are held in winter, and on one of the pan- 
els of the altar there is an exquisite painting of the 
Madonna. The sweet Byzantine face is painted on 
ivory, and a silver drapery is wrapped about the head 
and shoulders. St. Michael, St. Nicholas, and the 
glorious company of apostles and angels on the same 
altars are robed in silver garments with jewelled ha- 


los. This chapel and the whole church still wore 
the lavish Easter decorations of wreaths, festoons, 
evergreen trees, and streamers of bright ribbons, both 
July weeks that I visited it. 

On the Sunday morning that the Idaho lay at the 
Sitka wharf we all attended morning service at the 
church, and were seated on benches at one side while 
the congregation stood throughout the long service, 
which was chanted by a male chorus concealed behind 
a carved screen near the altar. The men stood on 
one side of the church, and the women on the other, 
and at places in the service they knelt, and prostrated 
themselves until their foreheads touched the floor, and 
made the sign of the cross constantly. One aged man 
especially interested me with the devout manner in 
which he bowed and continually made the sign of the 
cross during the service. He was poorly clad, and in 
appearance he was one of Tourgenieff's serfs to the 
life, as one pictures them from the pages of his novels. 

On the following Monday — July i6, 1883 — we 
heard the church bells chiming in full chorus at an 
unwonted hour in the morning, and, hurrying to the 
square, we found that the Czar's manifesto was to be 
read, and a grand Te Deum sung in fionor of the 
coronation of Alexander III. Although the Ruler of 
Holy Russia had donned his imperial coronet weeks 
before, the official papers notifying the priest of that 
event only came up with the mails of our steamer. 
The usual morning service was elaborated in many 
ways. The choir of male voices chanted all the Te 
Deums appointed for such special occasions, the 
priest wore his most sumptuous vestments of cloth 
of geld and cloth of silver, the incense was wafted 


in clouds through the wreathed and garlanded church, 
and the kneeling congregation rose one by one and 
went forward to kiss the richly-jewelled cross that 
the priest extended towards them. At the close, a 
joyous peal rang out from the six sweet-toned bells 
in the steeple, and the devout souls went about the 
church kneeling and crossing themselves before the 
altars, and kissing the silver and ivory bas-relief 
images of the saints. Having doffed his splendid 
robes and his purple velvet cap. Father Mitropolski 
came forth and greeted his visitors, and had his 
assistant bring out some of the ancient treasures 
and vestments to show us. There were jewelled 
crosses, chalices of silver and gold, jewelled caskets, 
and quaint illuminated books in precious covers. The 
bishop's cap shown us was a tall, conical structure 
lined with satin, and covered with pearls, amethysts, 
rubies, and enamelled medallions in filigree settings. 
The crowns held over the heads of the bride and 
groom during the marriage service were fine pieces of 
Russian workmanship, and the silver basin for holy 
water was well executed. Rich vestments of old dam- 
ask, of heavy velvets embroidered with bullion and 
set with small stones, and robes of cloth of gold and 
cloth of silver, were displayed, together with the dra- 
peries used on the altar on various occasions, and the 
embroidered pall thrown over the coffin at funeral 
services. The choicest of the church treasures, 
including an enamelled cross set with diamonds and 
fine stones, and a book of the Scriptures with an 
elaborately wrought silver cover weighing twenty- 
seven pounds, were taken to the San Francisco 
church after the transfer. The bishop's robes and 


special belongings were taken there also, and after 
Bishop Nestor's death the richest of them were sent 
back to Russia. In 1869 the church was robbed of 
much of its plate and treasures, by some discharged 
soldiers of the garrison, it was thought, and only a 
few of the valuables were recovered. 

During our first stay the assistant priest found a 
chest of old bronze medals, crosses, and enamelled 
triptych s in the garret of the church, and the visitors 
contributed well to the poor fund in order to obtain 
these relics. It was certified that all the small 
crosses and medals had been blessed at Moscow 
before being sent out to the colony, and these ikons 
or images were given to the soldiers and others on 
their saints' days. A small bronze medal with the 
image of St. Nicholas fell to my lot, with the head of 
Christ in one corner, that of the Virgin in another, 
and their names raised in old Slavonic characters 
above them. It has a loop to be hung by a ribbon, 
and St Nicholas' face is worn smooth by the reverent 
lips that have touched it. These medals, — common 
enough and to be bought for a few coppers in Russia, 
— were highly valued by us among our other Sitkan 

The priest of the Sitka church. Father Mitropolski, 
is broad and liberal in his views, and quite astonishes 
some narrower sectarians by his mode of life and 
participation in ordinary amusements. His tolerance 
and liberal tendencies were proved by his recently 
reading the Episcopal marriage service before the 
altar of the Greek Church, uniting at the time a 
naval officer of Unitarian faith to a teacher at the 
Presbyterian mission. Father Mitropolski, a wife, 


and a family of little daughters — Xenia, Nija, and 
Alexandra — keep life and sunshine in the ram- 
bling, half-ruined house, which, as the bishop's resi- 
dence, was formerly the finest dwelling after the 
castle. The roof was then bright emerald green, and 
this and the green dome and roof of the church 
showed well in the cluster of red roofs that covered 
the other buildings in the town. With diminished 
church revenues and a lessening congregation, the 
building has slowly fallen into sad decay, the galleries 
and porches have dropped off, and only a part of the 
house is now occupied. The drawing-room contains 
a few pieces of rich furniture as relics of its former 
days, and the portraits of the czars, and the shining 
samovar, declare it the home of loyal Russians. An 
ancient guitar, made of some finely grained wood that 
is hardly known to modern makers of that instru- 
ment, was for a long time in the possession of Father 
Mitropolski, having descended with the residence 
from the line of bishops and priests. It is very 
curious in its shape and details, one end of it being 
round^ed in a great curve, and the keyboard not rest- 
ing on the body of the guitar at all. It has a sweet, 
melancholy tone, and accompanies appropriately some 
of the strange little Russian songs that are sung to 
it. There is a private chapel off the drawing-room, 
which contains a beautifully decorated altar, and 
family service is held there daily. 

A Lutheran church, facing the Greek church on 
the square, was founded by Governor Etolin, in 
1844, for the Swedes and Finns employed by the 
fur company, and in the foundries and shipyard 
at Sitka. During the stay of the United States 


troops the Lutheran church was used by the post 
chaplain, a Methodist. The abandoned church is 
now in the last stage of ruin, the roof sunken in, 
and the walls dropping apart. The pipe-organ, 
brought from Germany forty years ago, was rescued 
by a young officer of musical tastes, and by clever 
repairing it was put in good condition, and found to 
be a very fine instrument. 

Facing on this same church square is the ware- 
house and the office of the old Russian-American 
Fur Company. The solid log buildings have stood 
the ravages of time and the damp climate, and a 
mining-engineer and assayer has taken possession of 
it for his office. Quite appropriately the headquarters 
of the fur trade, which constituted the most valuable 
interest of the early days, is now the laboratory of 
an assayer, who tests the minerals upon which so 
much of the future importance of the territory 

The officers' club-house, back of the Greek church, 
is still in a fair condition, but the tea-gardens and the 
race-course have vanished in undergrowth. A sturdy 
little fir-tree, rooted in the crevice of a great boulder 
or outcropping ledge of rocks in front of the club- 
house, is one of the curiosities of Sitka, and has 
been growing in that solid granite as long as anyone 
now living there can remember. 

The sawmill, with its large water-wheel, is drop- 
ping to decay, the hospital building was burned while 
used as a mission-school, and it is hard to trace 
the site of the old shipyard, that was a most com- 
plete establishment in its day. For a long time it 
was the only yard on the coast, and vessels of all 


nationalities put in there for repairs. The Russians 
had one hundred and eighty church hoHdays during 
the year, and observed them all carefully. English 
naval commanders, by keeping their own Sabbath, and 
having the Russian Sabbath and holidays celebrated 
by closing the shipyards and stopping work, used to 
have long stays in the harbor ; and the impatient 
navigators, in view of the whirl of social life that 
marked the visit of a strange ship, fairly believed 
that the delays were managed by the governor's 
authority. At the foundries, ploughs were made and 
exported to the Mexican possessions south of them, 
and the bells of half the California mission churches 
were cast at the Sitka foundry. 

At the end of the scattered line of houses that 
fringe the shore, the Jackson Institute, a Presbyterian 
mission-school and home, occupies a fine site, facing 
the harbor. The mission was founded in 1878, and 
named for the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, who has charge 
of the Presbyterian missions in Alaska, and the 
building is soon to be enlarged, to accommodate a 
larger number of pupils than were first gathered in 
it, under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Austin. 




THE doorway of the Greek church, and the dial 
on its tower, face toward the harbor, and com- 
mand the main street. Beyond the houses at the 
right there is a little pine-crowned hill, with the broken 
and rusty ruins of a powder-magazine on its slope, and 
on a second hill beyond is the graveyard where the 
Russians buried their dead. An old block house, that 
commanded an angle of the stockade, stands sentry 
over the graves, and the headstones and tombs are 
overgrown with rank bushes, ferns, and grasses. Prince 
Maksoutoff's first wife, who died at Sitka, was buried 
on the hill, and a costly, elaborately carved tombstone 
was sent from Russia to mark the spot. After the 
transfer and withdrawal of troops, the Indians, in 
their maraudings, defaced the stone, and attempted 
to carry it off. It was broken in the effort, and left 
in fragments on the ground. Lieutenant Oilman, 
in charge of the marines during the stay of the 
AdamSf became interested in the matter, hunted for 
the grave in the underbrush, and undertook the work 
of replacing the tombstone. Beyond the Russian 
cemetery, on the same overgrown hillside, are the 
tombs of the chiefs and medicine-men of the Sitka 
kwan. The grotesque images and the queer little 


burial boxes are nearly hidden in the tangle of bushes 
and vines, and their sides are covered with moss. 

The Russians had a special chapel out on this hill 
for the Indians to worship in, as shown in old illus- 
trations of Sitka, but the building has disappeared. 
There was a heavy stockade wall also, separating the 
Indian cemetery and village from the white settle- 
ment, but it has nearly all been torn down and car- 
ried off by the Indians during the years of license 
allowed them after the troops left, and only frag- 
ments of it remain in places. 

Entering through the old stockade gate, the Indian 
rancherie presents itself, as a double row of square 
houses fronting on the beach. Each house is num- 
bered and whitewashed, and the ground surround- 
ing it gravelled and drained. The same neatness 
marks the whole long stretch of the village, and 
amazement at this condition is only ended when one 
learns that the captain of the man-of-war fines each 
disorderly Indian in blankets, besides confining him in 
the guard-house, and that the forfeited blankets are 
duly exchanged for paint, whitewash, and disinfectants. 
Police and sanitary regulations both are enforced, 
and the Indians made to keep their village quiet and 
clean. When all the Indians are home from their 
fishing and trading trips, and congregated here in the 
winter, they number over a thousand, and all goes 
merry at the rancherie. There are no totem poles, or 
carved, grotesquely-painted houses to lend outward 
interest to the village, and the Indians themselves are 
too much given to ready-made clothes and civilized 
ways to be really picturesque. 

Annahootz, Sitka Jack, and other chiefs have 


pine doorplates over their lintels, to announce wLere 
greatness dwells, but the palace of Si wash Town is 
the residence of " Mrs. Tom," a painted cabin with 
green blinds, and a green railing across the front 
porch. Mrs. Tom is a character, a celebrity, and a 
person of great authority among her Siwash neigh- 
bors, and wields a greater power and influence among 
her people, than all the war chiefs and medicine-men 
put together. Even savage people bow down to 
wealth, and Mrs. Tom is the reputed possessor of 
;^ 10,000, accumulated by her own energy and shrewd- 
ness. We heard of Mrs. Tom long before we reached 
Sitka, and, realizing her to be such a potentate among 
her people, we were shocked to meet that lady by the 
roadside, Sunday morning, offering to sell bracelets 
to some of the passengers. The richest and greatest 
chiefs are so avaricious that they will sell anything 
they own. 

Mrs. Tom invited us to come to her green-galleried 
chalet in Siwash town, "next door to No. 17," at 
any time we pleased. On the rainiest morning in all 
the week we set our dripping umbrella points in that 
direction, and found the great Tyee lady at home. 
It was raw and chill as a New York November, but 
Mrs. Tom strolled about barefooted, wearing a single 
calico garment, and wrapping herself in a white 
blanket with red and blue stripes across the ends. 
Her black hair was brushed to satiny smoothness, 
braided and tied with coquettish blue ribbons, and 
her arms were covered with bracelets up to her 
elbows. She is a plump matron, fat, fair, and forty 
in fact, and her house is a model of neatness and 
order. On gala occasions she arrays herself in her 


best velvet dress, her bonnet with the red feather, a 
prodigious necktie and breastpin, and then, with two 
silver rings on every finger, and nine silver bracelets 
on each arm, she is the envy of all the other ladies of 
Siwash town. When she came to the ship to be 
photographed by an admiring amateur, she had, be- 
sides her ordinary regalia, a dozen or more pairs of 
bracelets tied up in a handkerchief, and we began to 
believe her wealth as boundless as her neighbors say 
it is. Like all the Indians she puts her faith mostly 
in blankets, and her house is a magazine of such 
units of currency, while deep in her cedar boxes she 
has fur robes of the rarest quality. 

Mrs. Tom has acquired her fortune by her own 
ability in legitimate trade, and each spring and fall 
she loads up her long canoe and goes off on a great 
journey through the islands, trading with her people. 
On her return she trades with the traders of Sitka, 
and always comes out with a fine profit. A romance 
once wove its meshes about her, and on one of her 
journeys it was said that Mrs. Tom bought a handsome 
young slave at a bargain. The slave was considera- 
bly her junior, but in time her fancy overlooked that 
discrepancy, and after a few sentimental journeys in 
the long canoe she duly made him Mr. Tom, thus 
proving that the human heart beats the same in 
Siwash town as in the Grand Duchy of Gerolstein. 

This interesting bit of gossip, duly vouched for by 
some of the white residents, is opposed by others, who 
say that Mr. Tom is a chief of the Sitka kwa/i in his 
own right, and that he made the mesalliance when 
he wedded his clever spouse, and that he owns a 
profitable potato-ranch further down Baranoff Island. 


Any one would prefer the first and more romantic 
biography, but, anyway, Mr. Tom is a smooth-faced, 
boyish-looking man, and evidently well trained and 
managed by his spouse. In consideration of their 
combined importance, he was made one of the dele- 
gated policemen of Siwash town, and he makes male- 
factors answer to him, as he has learned to answer to 
his exacting wife. 

On the occasion of another morning call, Mrs. 
Tom was meditating a new dress, and the native 
dressmaker who was to assist in the creation was 
called in to examine the cut of pur gowns, when 
we called upon her that time. There was a funny 
scene when Mrs. Tom discovered that what appeared 
to her as a velvet skirt on the person of one of her 
visitors, was merely a sham flounce that ended a few 
inches under a long, draped overskirt. Her bewil- 
dered look and the sorry shake of her head over this 
evidence of civilized pretence amused us, and in slow, 
disapproving tones she discussed the sham and swin- 
dle with her dressmaker. She showed us her accor- 
deons, and gave us a rheumatic tune on one of them, 
and we were afterwards told that she gives dancing 
parties in winter to the upper ten of Siwash town, 
who dance quadrilles to the accordeon's strains. 

Sitka Jack's house is a large square one fronting 
directly on the beach, and during his absence at 
Pyramid Harbor the square hearthstone in the mid- 
dle was being kept warm by the relatives he had left 
behind him. When this house was built, in 1877, it 
was warmed by a gx2is\^ potlatch, or feast and gift dis- 
tribution, that distanced all previous efforts of any 
rivals. An Alaska chief is considered rich in propor- 


tion as he gives away his possessions, and Sitka Jack 
rose an hundredfold in Siwash esteem when he gave 
his gr?ir\d potlatch. All his relatives assisted in build- 
ing the house, and this same community idea entitles 
them to live in it. Over five hundred blankets were 
given away at his potlatch^ and the dance was fol- 
lowed by a great feast, in which much whiskey and 
native hoochinoo figured. Ben Holladay, Sr., with a 
large yachting party, was in the harbor at the time, 
and lent interest to the occasion by offering prizes 
for canoe races and adding a water carnival to the 
other festivities. Sitka Jack nearly beggared himself 
by this great house-warming, but his fame was settled 
on a substantial basis, and he has since had time to 
partly recuperate. He has aged rapidly of late years, 
and now he delight^^ to crouch by his fireside in win- 
ter evenings and relate the story of his grtdX poilatck 
of seven years ago, which was such an event that even 
the white residents date by it. Another great pot- 
latch made the summer of 1882 historical, and the 
presence of the Dakota^ with General Miles and his 
regimental band aboard, stirred the rancherie to re- 
doubled efforts. 

Jack and Kooska, the silversmiths of the Sitka 
kwaii, are very skilful workmen, and one can sit beside 
their work benches and watch them fashion the brace- 
lets that are in such demand. During the summer 
months they can sell their ornaments faster than they 
can make them, and in two hours after a steamer's 
arrival their stock is exhausted, and they work night 
and day on special orders while the vessel is at the 
wharf. If you give them the order in the morning 
the bracelets are ready in the afternoon, as carefully 


finished and engraved as any of the others of their 
make. In one doorway we saw a woman crouching 
or lying face downwards, and slowly engraving a 
silver finger ring. She had a broken penknife for an 
engraver's tool, and she held it in her closed hand, 
blade down, and drew it towards her as she worked. 
Her attitude, and the management of the steel, set 
the oriental theorists off into speculations again, and 
they decided that she herself must have come straight 
across from Japan, so identical were her proceedings 
with those of the embroiderers and art workers in the 
kingdom of Dai Nippon. 

She was quite unconscious and self-possessed while 
we stood chattering about her, and continued to 
chew gum in the most nonchalant manner. Inside 
of this barred doorway, the other members of the fam- 
ily were sitting about the fire, taking their morning 
meal. For their ten o'clock breakfast they were enjoy- 
ing smoked salmon with oil, and an unhealthy looking 
kind of dough, or bread, washed down by very bad 
tea, judging from the way in which the tin teapot 
was allowed to boil and thump away on the coals. 
They are none of them epicures, and even in the 
matter of salmon they make no distinction, and cure 
and eat the rank dog salmon almost in preference to 
the choicer varieties. Although they are expert hunt- 
ers, and bring in all the venison and wild fowl for the 
Sitka market, they seldom eat game themselves. It 
takes away a civilized appetite to see them eat the 
cakes of black seaweed, the sticks and branches 
covered with the herring roe that they whip from the 
surface of the water at certain seasons, and the dried 
salmon eggs that they are so particularly fond of. 


They eat almost anything that Jives in the sea, and 
the octopus, or devil-fish, is a dainty that ranks with 
seal flippers for a feast. Clams of enormous size, 
found on the beaches through the islands, and mus- 
sels are other staple dishes. 

The Sitka Indians, we were assured by a resident, 
" are the sassiest and most rascally Siwashes to be 
found in the country," but outwardly they differed very 
little from the other tribes that we had seen. They 
have the same broad, flat faces, and from generations 
of canoe-paddling ancestors have inherited a magnifi- 
cent development of the shoulders, chests, and arms. 
This development is at the expense of the rest of the 
frame, and, from sitting cramped in their canoes, the 
lower limbs are dwarfed and crooked, and their bodies 
affect one with the unpleasant sense of deformity. 
They are stumbling and shambling in their gait, and 
toe in to exaggeration ; and these amphibious, fish- 
eating natives are as different as possible from the 
wild horsemen of the plains, or the pastoral tribes of 
the southwest. The Sitkans have the same mythology 
and totemic system as the rest of the Thlinket tribes, 
and reverence the spirits of the raven, the wolf, th.» 
whale, bear, and eagle ; and their worship of the spirits 
and ashes of their ancestors is quite equal to the 
Chinese. They cremate their dead, with the excep- 
tion of the medicine men, who are laid away in state, 
and the poles and fluttering rags set up around the 
village indicate the sacred spots where the ashes 
lie. They worship the spirits of the earth, air, and 
water ; and the spirits of the departed ones, now occu- 
pying the bodies of the ravens that fly overhead, 
exempt those huge croakers from shot and snare. 



They show some belief in a future state by saying 
that the flames of the aurora borealis are the spirits 
of dead warriors dancing overhead. When a chief dies 
his wives pass to his next heir, and unless these 
relicts purchase their freedom with blankets, they are 
united to their grandsons, or nephews, as a matter of 
course. High-strung young Siwashes sometimes 
scorn these legacies, and then there is war between 
the totems, all the widows* clan resenting such an 
outrage of decency and established etiquette. Curi- 
ously with this subjection of the women, it is they 
who are the family autocrats and tyrants, giving the 
casting-vote in domestic councils, and overriding the 
male decisions in the most high-handed manner. 
Hen-pecking is too small a word to describe the way 
in which they bully their lords, and many times our 
bargain with the ostensible head of the family was 
broken up by the woman arriving on the scene, and 
insisting that he should not sell, or should charge us 
more. Woman's rights, and her sphere and influ- 
ence, have reached a development among the Sitkans, 
that would astonish the suffrage leaders of Wyoming 
and Washington Territory. They are all keen, sharp 
traders, and if the women object to the final price 
offered for their furs at the Sitka stores, they get mto 
their canoes, and paddle up to Juneau, or down to 
Wrangell, and even across the border to the British 
trading posts. They take no account of time or 
travel, and a journey of a thousand miles is justified 
to them, if they only get another yard of calico m 
exchange for their furs. All the Thlinkets are great 
visitors, and canoe loads of visiting Indians can 
always be found at a village. The Sitka and the 


Stikine kwans seem to affiliate most, but visits 
from members of all the tribes make the Sitka 
rancherie an aborigine metropolis. Busybodies and 
cosmopolitans, like Sitka Jack, live all over the archi- 
pelago, and it was this roaming propensity that gave 
the military forces so much trouble during garrison 
days at Sitka. The land forces could do nothing 
with the scornful Indians in their light kanimSj and 
when the order was given to let no Indian leave the 
rancherie, they snapped their fingers at the challeng- 
ing and forbidding sentries, and paddled away at their 
pleasure. They have a great respect for a gun- 
boat with its ceremony, pomp, and strict discipline, 
and its busy steam launches, that can follow their 
canoes to the most remote creeks and hiding-places 
in the islands. The Indians employed on the Adams 
were diligent and faithful servitors, and were much 
pleased with their sailors' caps and toggery, and the 
official state surrounding them. 

Indian legends and traditions can be had by the 
score at Sitka, but it is hard to verify any of them, 
and the myths, rites, and folk-lore of the people are 
not to be gathered with exactness during the touch- 
and-go excitement of a summer cruise. Bishop 
Veniaminoff mastered their language, and translated 
books of the Testament, hymns, and catechism, and 
published several works on the Koloshians. Baron 
Wrangell also wrote a great deal concerning them, 
and abstracts from these two writers have been given 
by Dall and Petroff. No ethnologists have made 
studies among the Thlinkets since Veniaminoff and 
Wrangell, a half century ago, and the field lies ready 
for some northern Cushins:. 




ENTHUSIASTS who have seen both, declare 
that the Bay of Sitka surpasses the Bay of 
Naples in the grandeur and beauty of its surround- 
ings. The comparison is instituted between these 
two distant places, because the extinct volcano, Mount 
Edgecumbe, rears its snow-filled crater above the bay, 
as Vesuvius does by the curving shores of the peerless 
bay of the Mediterranean. Nothing could be finer 
than the outlines of this grand old mountain that rises 
from the jutting corner of an island across the bay, 
and in the sleepy, summer sun, Edgecumbe's slopes are 
bluer than lapis lazuli or sapphire, and the softest, film- 
iest gray clouds trail across the ragged walls of the 
crater. It is more than a century since it poured forth 
its smoke and lava, but jets of steam occasionally rise 
from it now, and if an exploration of its unknown 
slopes is ever made, some signs of active life will 
doubtless be found. Great patches of snow lie within 
the crater's rim, and, standing as a sentinel on the 
very edge of the great Pacific, Edgecumbe is perpet- 
ually wreathed with the clouds that float in from the 



sea. The Indians have fastened many of their 
legends and myths to it, and the Creator and the 
original crow are supposed to have come from its 
depths and to still dwell therein, while Captain Cook, 
the great navigator, gave it the name which it now 

A hundred little islands lie in the harbor of Sitka, 
within the great sweep of the Baranoff shores, whose 
curve is greater than a semicircle at this point. 
Each one is a tangled bit of rock and forest, and 
their dense, green thickets and grassy slopes are 
bordered with mats of golden and russet sea- 
weeds, that at low tide add the last fine tone to a 
landscape of the richest coloring. Every foot of 
island shore off Sitka is sketchable, and a picture in 
itself ; and the clear, soft light, the luminous trans- 
parent tones, would be the rapture of a water-color 
artist. Japonski, which is the largest of this group 
of little islands, lies directly abreast of Sitka, and 
the Russians maintained an observatory on it dur- 
ing their ownership. At the time of the transfer, 
all of the larger islands of the harbor were marked 
off as government reservations, but during these 
seventeen years nothing has been done to maintain 
the government's claim, and settlers have lived on, 
cleared, and cultivated the land without molestation. 
The old observatory on Japonski Island has dropped 
to ruins, the last vestige of it has disappeared under 
the dense cover of vegetation, and the squatter who 
now occupies it raises fine Japonski potatoes for the 
Sitka market. 

During the time that the Russians kept their care- 


ful meteorological records at the Japonski Observa- 
tory and on shore, the thermometer went below zero 
only four times, and the variation between the sum- 
mer and winter temperature is no greater than on 
the California coast. It is the warm current of the 
Kuro Siwo, or Black Stream of Japan, pouring full on 
this shore, that modifies the temperature, and brings 
the fogs and mists that perpetually wreath the 
mountains, so that Fort Wrangell, though south 
of Sitka, is colder in winter and warmer in summer 
on account of its distance from the ocean current. 
The Sitka summer temperature of 51° and 55° pleases 
the fancy of dwellers in the east, quite as much as 
the even and temperate chill of 31° and 38° in mid- 
winter. Ice seldom forms of any thickness, and 
skating on the lake back of the church at Sitka is a 
rarity in the winter amusements. While St. John's 
in Newfoundland is beleaguered by icebergs in sum- 
mer, and its harbor frozen solid in winter, Sitka, 
ten degrees north of it, has always an open roadstead. 
As compared with the climate of Leadville, or some 
of the torrid spots in Arizona, the miners at Sitka 
and Juneau have nothing to complain of, and never 
have to contend against the fearful odds that opposed 
the miners during the first rush to the Coeur d'Alene 

The mean temperature of the air and of the surface 
sea water, and the precipitation for each month of 
the year at Sitka, as given in the tables in the Alaska 
Coast Pilot for 1883, are as follows: — 




3 i: 



March . 
April . , 
May . . , 
June . . 
July . . 
August . 

Year . . 


















The only drawback to this cool and equable climate 
is the heavy rainfall, which even a Scotchman says 
makes it " a wee hair too wet." One soon gets used 
to it, and goes around unconcernedly in a panoply of 
rubber and gossamer cloth, and rejoices that Sitka is 
not Fort Tongass, where the rainfall was 1 18.30 inches 
a year, for the time that the drenched and half-drowned 
officers kept the records. With all this downpour 
there is little dampness in the air, and, contradictory 
as this may seem, it is proven by the fact that clothes 
will dry under a shed during the heaviest rains. 
Boots and shoes do not mould, clothing does not get 
musty as in other climates, and on shipboard it is 
noticeable that kid gloves and shoes show no reluc- 
tance at being pulled on on the wettest mornings. 
The snow lies on the mountain tops and sides all 


the year through, though in a warm, dry summer 
it retreats to the summits and higher ravines. In 
winter the snow seldom lasts long on the level, and 
mist and rain, coming after each snowfall, soon reduce 
it to slush. These contradictions of climate are quite 
at variance with the accepted ideas of Alaska, and 
although its enemies say that it can never be made 
to support a population since grain and vegetables 
will not grow there, vegetables continue to be raised 
in this part of the territory, as they have for more than 
fifty years, and wild timothy and grasses grow three 
and four feet high in every clearing. No very intel- 
ligent methods of cultivating the soil have ever been 
attempted, and drainage is an unknown science. 
Vancouver found the Indians cultivating potatoes 
and a kind of tobacco, and there are little plantations 
back in sheltered nooks of the archipelago, where the 
Indians go each year to plant and gather their pota- 
toes. The Siwash sows his potatoes as a farmer does 
his grain, and very fine tubers cannot be expected 
from such farming. So far the residents of the ter- 
ritory have been like those dwellers on western 
cattle ranches, who count their cattle by thousands 
and use condensed milk and imported butter, and 
the tin can is oftener seen than the hoe or garden 
tools among them. 

Although hay cannot be cured in the natural way 
in this rainy region, scientific farmers think it feas- 
ible to cut and salt in trenches all the hay that 
will be needed for the cattle for many years. Sleek 
cows are grazing in the streets and open places 
around Sitka, and the residents point with pride 
to two venerable mules that were left by the quarter- 


master, when the garrison was abandoned, and that 
for seven years ran wild and ** rustled " for them- 
selves summer and winter. They weathered all the 
wet seasons, foraged for themselves in the winters, 
and rioted in sweet grasses as high as their ears 
during the perfect, luxuriant summers, and are good 
mules now. 

The fine little sponges and the delicate coral 
branches that are occasionally found in the harbor 
puzzle one with another hint of the tropics in this 
high latitude. Great fronds of seaweed and kelp as 
large as banana leaves drift on the rocks with the 
rushing tides, and the long, snaky a/^ce that float 
on the water are often found eighty and one hundred 
feet long. It is of these tough, hollow pipes that the 
Indians make the worms for their rude hoochinoo dis- 
tilleries, or, splitting and twisting it, make fishing 
lines many fathoms in length. The same little teredo 
that eats up ship timbers and piles in southern 
oceans is as destructive here in the harbor of Sitka 
as anywhere in the tropics. The piles of the wharf 
only last five years at the longest, and the merciless 
borers eat up the timbers of the old wrecks and 
hulks with which the first foundations for a wharf 
were begun, and nothing but the yellow cedar of the 
archipelago is said to withstand the teredo. 

Among other things that Sitka can boast of as an 
attraction is a promenade, a well-gravelled walk that 
the Russians built along the curving line of the beach, 
and through the woods, to the banks of the pretty 
Indian River. Up and down this walk the Russians 
used to stroll, and during the stay of the mail steamer 
the walk to Indian River is taken once and twice a 


day by the passengers, who are enraptured by the 
scenery, and given such an opportunity to see the heart 
of the woods and the mysteries of the forest growth. 
In seasons past, many primitive and picturesque Uttle 
bridges have spanned the rushing current of this crystal 
clear stream, but high waters have swept them away 
season after season. Lieut. Gilman, in charge of the 
marines attached to the AdamSy who rescued Princess 
Maksoutoff' s tombstone, and was general director of 
public works and improvements, took his men and a 
force of Indians belonging to the ship's crew, and 
cleared a new pathway from the beach to the river, in 
1884. He led paths up either side of the stream for 
a half mile or more ; bridged the stream twice, and 
threw two picturesque bridges across the ravines on 
the river bank. A great deal of taste and ingenuity 
was shown in choosing the route along the river, so as 
to bring in view all the best points of scenery, and the 
rustic bridges in fantastic designs add greatly to many 
of the glimpses from under the greenwood trees. All 
along Indian River the ferns run riot, covering the 
ground in every clearing, and curling their great 
fronds up with the huge green leaves of the " devil's 
club," that would make parasols for people larger 
than elfs or fairies. The moss covers everything 
under foot with a close, springy carpet six inches 
deep, and moss and lichens, ferns and grasses envelop 
every fallen log and twig, and convert them into things 
of beauty. Giant firs and pines rise above the pros- 
trate trunks of other large trees, whose wood is 
still sound at the heart, although the roots of a tree 
seventy feet high are arched and knotted over them. 
These overgrown trunks of prostrate trees are scat- 


tered all through the woods, and on one side of the 
river there is a fallen tree that would excite won- 
der even in the groves of California. Where the 
upturned roots are exposed, they are matted into a 
broad flat base on which the tapering trunk without 
tap-roots once stood like a candle on a candlestick. 
The fallen trunk is over ten feet in diameter, and 
a man six feet high is dwarfed when he stands be- 
side the root. A second forest of ferns, bushes, and 
young trees has sprung up on top of this overturned 
tree, and its giant outlines will soon be lost in the 
tangle of vegetation. 

The size of the cedar-trees in the archipelago has 
long been a matter of record. Army officers tell that 
cedars eight feet in diameter were cut down when 
they built the post at Fort Tongass, and Mr. Seward 
often boasted of the great planks, four and five feet 
wide, hewn by stone hatchets, that he measured in 
Kootznahoo and Tongass villages. 

One bridge hangs its airy trestles over Indian River 
at a point where the main branch comes tumbling 
down in cascades, and a side stream pours in its 
sparkling, clear waters. Beyond that bridge, the path 
winds out into a clearing, and past an old brewery 
that flourished and made fortunes for its owners under 
Russian rule. The United States has prevented the 
manufacture and importation of all kinds of liquors in 
Alaska, and the brewery has been abandoned for many 
years. All the acres of the clearing in which it stands 
are covered thickly with blueberry bushes and rose 
bushes, while white clover lies like snow-drifts on either 
side of the corduroy road that leads into the town. The 
salmon berries, that wave their clusters of golden and 


crimson fruit in the woods and along the steep river 
bank, disappear at the edge of this clearing, and the 
blueberries are thicker than anything else that can 
grow on a bush. Big ravens croak in the tall tree-tops 
in the woods, inviting a shot from a sportsman, but, 
when hit, they fall into such thickets that the most ex- 
perienced bird dogs could never retrieve one. Tiny 
humming-birds, with green and crimson throats, nest in 
the woods along the river, and the drumming of their 
little wings is the first warning of their presence. All 
that woodland that borders Indian River is a part of 
an enchanted forest, and more lovely than words can 

Where the path again reaches the beach and brings 
in view the harbor and its islands, a large square block 
of stone lies beside the path. It is popularly known 
as the Blarney Stone, and dowers the one who kisses 
it with a charmed tongue. All the men-of-war and 
revenue cutters that have visited the harbor have left 
their names and dates cut in the rock, and some 
strange old Russian hieroglyphs antedate them all 
and give a proper touch of mystery to it. Captain 
Meade speaks of this Blarney Stone as a favorite rock 
" on which Baranoff, the first governor, used to sit on 
fine afternoons and drink brandy, until he became so 
much overcome that his friends had to take him home." 
There are several improbable and manufactured le- 
gends attached to it, but since the Indians have taken 
to gathering around it and sitting on it in groups, 
faith in the miraculous power of the stone has de- 
creased among the white people. 

In connection with this woodland walk along Indian 
River, a tragic little story was told, to a company sip- 


ping tea around a shining samovar one night, that 
invests even the garrison days that succeeded the 
transfer with something of romantic incident. The 
captain and a lieutenant of one of the companies 
stationed at Sitka in the first year of United States 
possession fell desperately in love with the same 
beautiful Russian. She was a most charming woman, 
with soft, mysterious eyes, a pale, delicate face, and a 
slow, dreamy smile that set the two warriors wild. 
All the garrison knew of their fierce rivalry, so mar- 
velled not a little when their old friendship appeared to 
be restored, and the two suitors started off on a hunt- 
ing expedition together. One haggard man returned 
two days later, and said that his companion had been 
attacked and gored to death by an enraged buck in 
the forest. He was gloomy and strange in his man- 
ner, and at nightfall went to the house of the Russian 
lady to break the news of his rival's death. The 
friends of the lost officer talked the thing over, and, 
suspecting that a duel had been fought, decided to go 
out the next day and search for the body. In the 
morning the surviving rival was found dead in bed, 
with a look of agony and horror on his face. One 
story was that his victim had appeared to him, and 
he had died of fright and terror ; the other was that 
some unknown and subtle poison had been adminis- 
tered to him in a cup of tea, and the official report 
ascribed his death to heart-disease. The body of the 
lost rival was found at the foot of a steep bank on the 
shore of Indian River, where a tangle of ferns, bushes 
and grasses shaded and almost covered the clear, still 
pool in which he lay. His rifle was near him, and a 
bullet-hole in the heart told the sad truth, that his 


friends had suspected. His death was ojfficially at- 
tributed to the accidental discharge of his own rifle 
while hunting, and under these two verdicts the real 
truth was concealed. The family of the Russian 
beauty disappeared from Sitka in a few months, and 
the story had been half forgotten until the recent 
opening of a path along Indian River recalled it to 
some of those who lived at Sitka at the time. 

All around Sitka and its beautiful bay there are 
sylvan spots where the sportsman and the angler 
rejoice. The late Major William Gouverneur Morris, 
who lived at Sitka for several years, and was collector 
of customs at the time of his death, was an enthusi- 
astic fisherman, and could tell tempting tales of his 
exploits with the rod. A small lake, a few miles 
back from the town, was his favorite resort, and on 
one occasion the Major's party caught four hundred 
and three trout in three hours. At Sawmill Creek a 
party of visiting anglers hooked sixty pounds of trout 
one morning, and the little Indian boys land salmon- 
trout from any place along Indian River. 

At old Sitka, nine miles north of the present town, 
a salmon cannery was established in 1879 by the 
Messrs. Cutting of San Francisco. The Sitka In- 
dians offered great objections to the landing of the 
Chinamen who were sent up to start the work in 
the cannery, and their spirit was so hostile at first, 
that the agent feared he would have to abandon the 
Chinamen or the whole project. The chiefs were 
finally pacified by being assured that the Chinese 
had only been brought to teach them a new process 
of salmon-canning, and after a short time all but a 
few of the Chinamen were sent back, and over one 


hundred Indians were employed at the cannery. 
After four years the cannery was moved to a point 
further north, and the Bay of Starri Gavan settled 
into its old deserted way. Over twenty-one thou- 
sand cases of canned salmon were shipped from the 
new cannery in 1884, and the owners felt justified 
in following the prospectors' advice to go further 

South of Sitka the bay is indented with many 
inlets, and ten miles below the town are the Hot 
Springs, destined to again become a resort and sani- 
tarium, when Sitka regains the size and importance 
of old. The springs are situated in a beautiful bay, 
and the waters, impregnated with iron, sulphur, and 
magnesia, are efficacious in cases of rheumatism and 
skin diseases. The Russian Fur Company erected a 
hospital there for its employees, but in late years 
only the Indians, occasional hunters, and prospec- 
tors have patronized the springs to any extent. An 
eccentric old lady, who writes blank-verse letters 
to the President and the Secretary of the Navy when 
things go wrong in Sitka, spent some weeks in solitude 
at the springs one summer, and was highly indignant 
when the naval commander sent down and insisted 
upon her return to the settlement, as they were all 
alarmed for her safety. The lazy Indians who go to 
the springs are said to sit in the pools of warm water 
all night, rather than gather the wood for a camp-fire, 
and they have great faith in the powers of the medi- 
cated waters. Some of the enthusiasts, who have 
the glory of the territory at heart, foresee the day 
when the Hot Springs will be famous, and a summer 
hotel, with all civilized accompaniments, draw visit- 


ors from all parts of the globe. Professor Davidson, 
in an article in " Lippincott's Magazine," of Novem- 
ber, 1868, tells of a glacier hidden away near the 
bay, which will, of course, add to the attractions of 
this summer resort of the next century. 

At Silver Bay, nearly south of Sitka, the earliest 
indications of gold were found in the archipelago. 
Soon after the California discoveries of 1848, the 
Emperor of Russia became convinced that there 
must be mineral wealth in his possessions in America. 
The directors of the fur company ignored all his first 
suggestions about undertaking a search expedition, 
and, as they did not want their own business interfered 
with, gave the hostility of the natives always as an 
excuse for not making any attempts. Their course 
was quite the same as that followed later by the Hud- 
son Bay Company's agents, when gold was discovered 
on the Frazer River and in the Cariboo regions of 
British Columbia. The Emperor, persisting in his 
notion, sent out from St. Petersburg, in 1854, a 
promising and adventurous young mining engineer, 
named Dorovin, who, beginning at Cook's Inlet, 
searched the coast down to Sitka without making 
any great discoveries. Arrived at Sitka, the gay 
northwest capital, he plunged into all the social dissi- 
pations, and, after a year's idleness, sent back a 
report condemning the country. He made no attempt 
to search for minerals on Baranoff Island, and some 
years later, when a Russian officer found a piece of 
float gold in Silver Bay, the governor quieted the 
interest without resorting to the knout, as old Bara- 
noff did. Years afterwards a United States soldier 
found float gold in the same place, and, getting help 


from the garrison, discovered the quartz ledge of 
Baranoff Island. 

On Round Mountain, southeast of Sitka, are situ- 
ated the Great Eastern, the Stewart, and other mines, 
that attracted great attention at the time of their dis- 
covery in 1 87 1 and 1872. The pioneers in this mining 
district were Doyle and Haley, two soldiers, who had 
lived in the mining districts of California and Nevada. 
Nicholas Haley is the most energetic of miners, and 
has carefully prospected the region about Sitka. He 
has found stringers of quartz on Indian River, and 
has more valuable claims at the head of Silver Bay 
than on the long ledge cropping out on the slopes of 
Round Mountain. The mines on this ledge have had 
many vicissitudes, have changed hands many times, 
have been involved in lawsuits, while no one could 
hold a vahd title to a foot of mineral land in Alaska ; 
and finally, through unfortunate management, the 
work was stopped, and the mills have stood idle for 
years. The want of civil government, or adequate 
protection for capitalists, has prevented the owners 
from risking anything more in the development of 
these mines, although the assays and the results of 
working proved these Sitka mines to be valuable 




FOR a town of its size, strange, old, tumble-down, 
moss-grown Sitka has had an eventful history 
from first to last. Claiming this northwestern part 
of America by right 6f the discoveries made by Beh- 
ring and others in the last century, the Russians 
soon sent out colonies from Siberia. The earliest 
Russian settlements were on the Aleutian Islands, 
and thence, moving eastward, the fur company, whose 
president was the colonial governor, and appointed 
by the Crown, established its chief headquarters at 
Kodiak Island in 1790. Kodiak still lives in tradi- 
tion of the Russian inhabitants of the archipelago as 
a sunny, summery place, blessed with the best climate 
on this coast. 

Tchirikoff, the commander of one of Behring's ships, 
was the first white man to visit the site of Sitka, and 
two boatloads of men were seized and put to death 
by the savage Sitkans, July 15, 1741. 

The first settlement was made in 1800 at Starri 
Gavan Bay, just north of the present town, and 
the place was duly dedicated to the Archangel 
Gabriel and left in charge of a small company of 
Russians. In the same year, when the rest of the 
world was shaken with the great battles of Marengo 


and Hohenlinden, the Indians rose and massacred the 
new settlers and destroyed their buildings. Baranoff 
was then governor of the colony, a fierce old fellow, 
who began life as a trader in Western Siberia, and was 
slowly raised to official eminence. He established the 
settlement at Kodiak before he made the venture at 
Sitka, and when he heard of the destruction of his new 
station, immediately arranged to rebuild it. In 1804 
he tried it over again, building the chief warehouse 
on the small Gibraltar of Katalan's Rock where the 
castle now stands, and dedicating the place to the 
Archangel Michael. Baranoff was ennobled, and, 
moving his headquarters to Sitka, remained in charge 
until 18 18. He opened trade and negotiations with 
the United States and many countries of the Pacific ; 
he welcomed John Jacob Astor's ships to this harbor 
in 1 810, and made with them contracts for the Canton 
trade, that were sadly interrupted by the war of 18 12 
between our country and England. 

In Washington Irving's " Astoria " there is a life- 
like sketch of this hard-drinking, hard-swearing old 
tyrant, and the picture does not present an attractive 
view of life at New Archangel, or Sheetka. In 181 1 
Baranoff sent out the colony under Alexander Kuskoff, 
and established a settlement at Fort Ross, in Cali- 
fornia, in the redwood country of the coast north of 
San Francisco. Grain and vegetables were raised 
there in great quantities for the northern settle- 
ments for the space of thirty years, when the Czar 
ordered his subjects to withdraw from Mexican ter- 

Baranoff ruled the colony with a rod of iron, and 
his absolute power of life and death over those under 



him, and the free use of the knout, kept the turbulent 
Indians, Creoles, and Siberian renegades in good 
order. He died at sea on his way home to Russia, 
and succeeding him as governor came Captain Hague- 
meister, and then a long line of noble Russians, gen- 
erally chosen from among the higher officers of the 

Under Russian rule the colony ran along in plea- 
sant routine ; the southeastern coast was for a time 
leased to the Hudson Bay Company, and their prox- 
imity and the slow encroachments of the English in 
trade soon aroused Russia to a realization of the dan- 
ger that threatened this distant colony in the event 
of a war. Russian America was first offered for sale 
to the United States during the Crimean war in 
1854, by Baron Stoeckl, who afterwards concluded 
the treaty of purchase in 1867. In 1854 the Eng- 
lish threatened the town of Petrapaulovski on the 
Kamschatkan coast, and the Russians foresaw the 
blockading and bombarding of their towns on the 
American side. This first offer was declined by 
President Pierce, and later negotiations came to 
naught in President Buchanan's day, when an offer 
of ^5,000,000 was declined by Russia. Robert J. 
Walker, who assisted in drawing up the legal docu- 
ments of transfer when we did finally buy the terri- 
tory, stated once that during Polk's administration the 
Czar offered Russian America to the United States 
for the mere payment of government incumbrances 
and cost of transfer. Wily old Prince Gortschakoff 
had to tell it, too, when his envoy made such a shrewd 
sale for him, that his master was for years anxious to 
get rid of this distant and unprotected colony at any 


sacrifice, provided, always, that it did not fall into the 
hands of the English, who wanted it so badly. 

In 1861 Russia and the United States held council 
in regard to establishing a telegraph line from this 
country to Europe, via Russian America, Behring 
Straits, and Siberia. Four years later an expedition 
was sent out by the Western Union Telegraph Com- 
pany, and several ships and a large corps of engineers, 
surveyors, and scientists, were engaged in exploring 
the coast from the United States boundary line north- 
ward to the Yukon country, and along the Asiatic 
coast to the mouth of the Amoor River. Over 
;^3,ooo,ooo were expended in these surveys, and a tele- 
graph line was erected for some hundred miles up the 
British Columbia coast, reaching to a point near the 
mouth of the Skeena River, that brought Sitka within 
three hundred miles of telegraphic comrnunication 
instead of eight hundred and fifty miles, as has been 
its condition since the scheme was given up. After 
two years' work, the company abandoned the under- 
taking and recalled its surveying parties. The 
demonstrated success of the Atlantic cable, and 
the difficulty of maintaining the line through the 
dense forest regions of the coast and the uninhabited 
moors of the North, induced the company to give 
up the plan. Prof. Dall, of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tute ; Whymper, the great English mountain climber ; 
Prof. Rothrocker, the botanist, and Col. Thomas W. 
Knox, who accompanied different parties of the 
Western Union Telegraph Company expedition, 
have written interesting books of their life and 
travels while connected with this great enterprise. 

As the time approached for the expiration of the 


lease by which the Hudson Bay Company held the 
franchise of the Russian-American Fur Company, 
great desire was manifested by citizens on the Pacific 
coast that the United States should purchase the 
colony. The legislature of Washington Territory sent 
a memorial to Congress in January, 1866, urging the 
purchase of the Russian possessions, and it was fol- 
lowed by earnest petitions from all parts of the 
Pacific coast. A syndicate of fur traders even pro- 
posed to buy the country of Russia on their private 
account, and sent a representative to Washington to 
consult with Secretary Seward in regard to having 
the United States establish a protectorate over their 
domain in that case. The Hudson Bay Company's 
lease was to expire in June, 1867, and in the spring 
of that year the plan of purchase by the United 
States government assumed definite shape. Negotia- 
tions were entered into by Secretary Seward and 
Baron Stoeckl, the Russian minister, and, though 
conducted with great secrecy, were soon rumored 
about. At that time President Johnson was plung- 
ing into the most stormy part of his career, threats 
of impeachment were in the air, and the articles had 
even been discussed by the House of Representatives 
before its adjournment, March 4, 1867. All of the 
preceding winter Washington had been full of rumors 
of great schemes, looking to a drain on the Treasury, 
and the House had grown wary and vigilant. Mexi- 
can patriots, from three different camps, were 
beseeching the aid of Congress and the State Depart- 
ment. The Jaurez and Ortega factions were implor- 
ing loans of from ^50,000,000 to ^80,000,000, and 
Maximilian's emissaries were doing their best in the 


way of diplomacy to aid the fortunes of their imperial 
master, who had just taken the field against the in- 
surgents. With such discords at home, Secretary 
Seward projected a brilliant stroke of foreign policy, 
and counted upon drawing off some of the hostile 
fires, and thrilling patriotic breasts by this purchase 
of Russian America, which should carry the stars 
and stripes to the uttermost limits of the north, and 
extend our dominion 3,000 miles west of the Golden 
Gate of California to that last island of Attn in the 
Aleutian chain, "o'er which the earliest morn of 
Asia smiles." 

On the evening of the 29th of March, Baron 
Stoeckl went to Secretary Seward's residence on 
Lafayette Square, joyfully waving the cable message 
that gave the Czar's approval to the plan, as then 
outlined. Baron Stoeckl proposed that they should 
draw up the treaty on the following day, but the 
Secretary said, " No ! we will do it now, and send it 
to the Senate to-morrow." 

There were no telephones at the capitol then, and 
messengers were sent in every direction to summon 
Secretary Seward's assistants, and open and light 
the building at Fourteenth and S Streets, then occu- 
pied by the State Department. Baron Stoeckl hunted 
up his secretaries and chancellor, and at midnight 
the company assembled, including Senator Charles 
Sumner, Chairman of the Senate Committee on 
Foreign Relations. Leutze has preserved the scene 
in a painting owned by Hon. Frederick W. Seward, of 
Montrose, N. Y. Secretary Seward and his assist- 
ants, Messrs. Hunter and Chew, and M. Bodisco, 
Secretary of the Russian Legation, form a central 


group. Baron Stoeckl stands beside the large globe 
of the world, and the lights of the chandelier over- 
head fall full upon Russian America, to which Baron 
Stoeckl is pointing his hand. Senator Sumner and 
Mr. Frederick Seward occupy a sofa in a corner back 
of this group, holding a school atlas before them. 

The signatures were affixed to the treaty at four 
o'clock on the morning of March 30. The illu- 
mination of the State Department at that unusual 
hour attracted suspicious attention, and it was known 
that something of import was going on. It was 
intended to keep the matter wholly secret until the 
Senate had ratified the treaty, but journalistic enter- 
prise ran high, and a New York reporter shadowed 
the Secretary of State, and, hanging on to the back 
of his carriage as he drove home with Baron Stoeckl 
that night, caught an inkling of the terms of the 
treaty and gave them to the world. 

On the same day the treaty was sent to the Senate, 
then convened in extra session, and, discussed in 
secret conclaves, was confirmed on the lOth of April, 
chiefly through the agency of Charles Sumner, who, 
although not favorable to the measure at first, arose 
on the tenth day and delivered a speech, which was 
one of the finest efforts of his life, and an epitome of 
all that was known and had been written up to date 
concerning Russian America. Every chart, every 
narrative of the old discoverers, every scientific work 
and special report, was consulted by that great scholar, 
and his speech "on the cession of Russian America" 
is still a work of authority and reference to those 
who would study the question. 

There was great surprise when the terms of the 


treaty were made known. The wits went to work 
with their jokes on the " Esquimaux Acquisition 
Treaty," and Sir Frederick Bruce, the British Minis- 
ter, was so chagrmed at the news, that he telegraphed 
to the Earl of Derby for instructions to protest 
against the acceptance of the treaty. It was ratified 
by the Senate by a vote of thirty yeas and two nays, 
the opposing twain being Senators Fessenden and 

While the matter was pending there were many 
conclaves and dinner councils at the residence of the 
Secretary of State. The " polar bear treaty " and the 
" Esquimaux senators " were common names at the 
capital, and of the Secretary's dinner parties one scribe 
wrote : " There was roast treaty, boiled treaty, treaty 
in bottles, treaty in decanters, treaty garnished with 
appointments to office, treaty in statistics, treaty in 
military point of view, treaty in territorial grandeur 
view, treaty clad in furs, ornamented with walrus 
teeth, fringed with timber, and flopping with fish." 
Other menus gave "icebergs on toast," ''seal flippers 
frappee," and "blubber au naturel." 

It was a great puzzle for a while to know what 
name should be given to the new territory, as 
Russian America would no longer do. The wits 
suggested "Walrussia," "American Siberia," "Zero 
Islands," and "Polaria," but at Charles Sumner's 
suggestion it was called "Alaska," the name by which 
the natives designated to Captain Cook the great 
peninsula on the south coast, and which, translated, 
means " the great land." The articles were exchanged 
and the treaty proclaimed by the President, June 20, 
1867. Secretary Seward was more than delighted 


with the success of his efforts, and the day after the 
proclamation said : "The farm is sold and belongs to 
us." He felt sure that he had the advantage of his 
enemies this time, and had gone far enough north to 
counteract any leaning or sentiment toward the 
South, that he had been accused of harboring. He 
proposed to make General Garfield, then fresh in his 
military honors, a first Governor of the Territory, 
and later he intended to divide the country into six 
territorial governments. 

The President and his premier lost no time in 
clinching the bargain, and immediately set about to 
receive and occupy the Territory, without waiting for 
the House of Representatives to appropriate the 
^7,200,000 of gold coin to pay for it with. Brigadier- 
General Lovell H. Rousseau was furnished with a 
handsome silk flag and many instructions by Secre- 
tary Seward, and left New York the same August 
in company with Captain Alexis Pestchouroff and 
Captain Koskul, who acted as Commissioners on the 
part of Russia. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, in com- 
mand of 250 men, was ordered to meet him at San 
Francisco, and left there at the same time as the 
Commissioners, on September 2y. Gen. Rousseau 
and his colleagues were taken on board the man-of-war 
Ossipee, then in command of Captain Emmons, and 
when they reached Sitka, on the morning of Octo- 
ber 18, 1867, found the troop ships already at anchor 
there. Three United States ships, the Ossipee under 
Captain Emmons, the Jamestown under command of 
Captain McDougall, and the Resaca under Captain 
Bradford, were flying their colors in the harbor that 
gay October morning, and the Russian flag fluttered 


from every staff and roof-top. At half past three 
o'clock in the afternoon the United States troops, a 
company of Russian soldiers, the group of officials, 
some citizens and Indians, assembled on the terrace 
in front of the castle. The ceremony of transfer was 
very simple, the battery of the Ossipee starting the 
national salute to the Russian flag, when the order 
was given to lower it, and the Russian water battery 
on the wharf returning, in alternation of shots, the 
national salute to the United States flag, as it was 
raised. The Russian flag caught in the ropes coming 
down, wrapped itself round and round the flag- 
staff, and although the border was torn off, the body 
clung to the staff of native pine. The Russian 
soldiers could not reach it until a boatswain's chair 
was rigged to the halyards, and then one of them 
untwisting the flag, and not hearing Captain Pest- 
chouroff's order to bring it down, flung it off, and it 
fell like a canopy over the bayonets of the Russian 

The rain began then, and the beautiful Princess 
Maksoutoff wept when the Russian colors finally 
fell. The superstitious affected to find an omen 
in this incident, but the American flag ran up gayly, 
and when the bombardment of national salutes 
was over. Captain Pestchouroff said : " By authority 
of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to 
the United States the Territory of Alaska !" Prince 
Maksoutoff handed over the insignia of his office as 
governor, and the thing was done. There was a 
dinner and a ball at the castle, an illumination and 
fireworks that night, and the bald eagle screamed on 
all the hill tops. The Russian citizens began to 


leave straightway, and in a few months fifty ships and 
four hundred people had sailed away from Sitka, and 
the desolation of American ownership began. Only 
three families of the educated class and of pure Rus- 
sian blood now live there, to remember and relate 
the tales of better days. After this formal transfer, 
garrisons of United States troops were established 
at Fort Tongass, near the southern boundary line, at 
Fort Wrangell, at Sitka and Kodiak, under orders 
of the Department of the Columbia ; but the ship 
carrying the troops to establish a fort on Cook's Inlet 
struck a rock and went to pieces when near its desti- 
nation. All the lives were saved, and the project of 
a fort at that point was then abandoned. 

Immense sums were paid by the government for 
the transportation of troops and freight in the few 
months after the occupancy, and, by the time Con- 
gress met, the United States had a firm hold on the 
new possession. There were exciting times at Sitka 
for a few months, and the first rush of enterprising 
and unscrupulous Americans quite astonished the de- 
parting Russians, who were unused to the tricks of 
the adventurers, who always hurry to a new country. 

Professor George Davidson was sent with eight 
assistants to make a report on the general features 
and resources of the country, and from July to No- 
vember he cruised along the coast on the revenue 
cutter Lincoln. He was mercilessly cross-examined 
by the special committee of Congress during the 
exciting winter that followed at Washington. 

Secretary Seward trod a thorny pathway, and he 
and his newly-acquired Territory were the theme of 
every wit and joker in the public prints. Congress was 


in an ugly frame of mind, and even the party leaders 
in the House of Representatives felt dubious about 
getting an appropriation to pay for Alaska. The 
wildest reports of the country and its resources were 
current, and while one sage represented it as a gar- 
den of wild roses, and a place for linen dusters, the 
next one said the only products were icebergs and 
furs, and the future settlers would cultivate their 
fields with snow-ploughs. 

The irrepressible Nasby wrote : " The dreary relic 
of diplomacy to the south of the North Pole is a land 
reservation for the Blair family," and he advised 
President Johnson to "swing around the circle," and 
visit "this land of valuable snow and merchantable 

In a less humorous vein a Democratic editor said : 
"Congress is not willing to take ;^ 10,000,000 from 
the Treasury to pay for the Secretary of State's 
questionable distinction of buying a vast uninhabit- 
able desert with which to cover the thousand mortifi- 
cations and defeats which have punished his pilotage 
of Andrew Johnson through his shipwrecked policy 
of reconstruction. The treaty has a clause binding 
us to exercise jurisdiction over the Territory and give 
government to forty thousand inhabitants now crawl- 
ing over it in snow-shoes. Without a cent of revenue 
to be derived from it, we will have to keep regiments 
of soldiers and six men-of-war up there, and insti- 
tute a Territorial government. No energy of the 
American people will be sufficient to make mining 
speculation profitable in 60° north latitude. Ninety- 
nine one-hundredths of the territory is absolutely 


In this spirit the thing went on through all of that 
stormy winter. The impeachment trial was held, and 
President Johnson acquitted May 17, 1867. On the 
following day General N. P. Banks introduced a bill 
appropriating $7,200,000 to pay for Alaska, and as it 
hung uncertain for weeks, it was determined to get the 
appropriation through in a deficiency bill, if the Banks 
bill failed. At a night session on the 30th of June, 
with the House in committee of the whole, and 
General Garfield in the chair, General Banks made a 
most eloquent speech, painting Alaska in glowing 
colors and luxuriant phrase, and winning the suffrages 
of the disaffected ones on his own side by the audacity 
of his genius. Judge Loughbridge, of Iowa, opposed 
the bill, and three Democrats (Boyer of Pennsylvania, 
Pruyn of New York, and Johnson of California), 
made ringing speeches in its favor. The next day 
C. C. Washburn made a severe speech against it, 
and Maynard, of Tennessee, spoke for it. Then the 
grand "old commoner," Thaddeus Stevens, made an 
oration in its favor, ending up with a fish story of the 
skipper who ran his ship aground on the herring in 
Behring Sea, and ran it so high and so dry on the wrig- 
gling fish, that it broke in two. On the 14th of July 
the bill passed by ninety-eight yeas, forty-nine nays. 
Fifty-three members not voting, endangered its suc- 
cess, but the House showed its temper by a clause 
insisting that hereafter it should take part in the 
consideration of treaties, as well as the Senate. Two 
weeks later the Czar was chinking his bags of Ameri- 
can gold, when dust again rose from the State De- 
partment. The cost of the cable messages sent by 
the two governments, in regard to the negotiations 


and the transfer, amounted to nearly ^30,000. When 
their share of the bill was presented to the Russian 
government, they refused to pay it, claiming that the 
treaty provided that the United States should pay 
^7,200,000 and all the expenses of transfer. There 
were polite messages between the diplomats, but at 
last the cable company reduced the bill, and our 
State Department paid for all of it. 

In the end many statements and prophecies con- 
cerning the Territory have been disproved, but we 
received a country of 580,107 square miles, equal in 
area to one sixth of the whole United States, and for 
this great empire we paid at the rate of one and 
nineteen-twentieths of a cent per acre. The Alex- 
ander archipelago itself, comprising 1,100 islands, 
and an area of 14,142 geographical square miles, 
will soon prove itself worth the purchase-money 
alone, when it is explored, developed, and settled. 
Of the strip of main land, thirty miles wide and three 
hundred miles long, off which the islands are an- 
chored, Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-Chief of 
the Hudson Bay Company, once said that all the 
British possessions in the interior, adjacent to it, 
were useless, if this coast strip were not leased to 
them. For years Great Britain made overtures to 
buy this strip, and hordes of its mining adventurers 
made threats to drive the Russians away ; yet, by 
the hooks and crooks of diplomacy, it came into the 
possession of the United States, while the southern 
border of this strip is distant six hundred and forty 
miles from our once northern boundary, the forty- 
ninth parallel. By leasing those tiny Seal Islands, 
in Behring Sea, to the Alaska Commercial Company, 

212 sour HERN ALASKA. 

the government has derived a revenue of over ^300,000 
per annum, and the Territory has, in this way, paid a 
fair percentage of interest on the purchase-money, 
since it has been virtually at no expense to protect it, 
or keep up a form of government. In view of the 
later mineral discoveries, it is said that Douglass Is- 
land alone is worth all that the United States gave 
for the Territory, and events are slowly proving the 
foresight and wisdom of Mr. Seward in acquiring it. 

The Russians knew almost nothing of the topo- 
graphy or resources of the country when they passed 
it over to us, as the directors of the fur company, 
having absolute control, had made everything sub- 
servient to their interests and trade. A clause in 
their lease provided that the government should have 
the right to all mineral lands discovered, so that they 
took good care to discourage explorers and prospect- 
ors. Baranoff is even said to have given thirty 
lashes to a man who brought in a specimen of gold- 
bearing quartz, and warned him of worse punishment 
if he found any more ore. All the records and 
papers of the fur company were turned over to the 
United States, and the archives at St. Petersburg 
were searched for any documents or reports pertain- 
ing to Russian America. Two shelves in the State 
Department Library at Washington are filled with 
these manuscript records of early Alaskan events. 
They are written in clear Russian text, as even as 
print, and forty of the volumes are archive reports 
of the directors and agents of the fur company. 
Fifty of them are office records and journals, and one 
bulky volume contains the ships' logs that were of 
sufficient value and interest to warrant their preser- 


vation. None of them have been translated, except 
as students and speciaHsts have made notes from 
them for their own use. Mr. Ivan Petroff gave 
these archives a thorough inspection in gathering the 
materials for his valuable Census Report of 1880. 




A GREAT event in the history of Sitka after the 
transfer was the visit of Ex-Secretary Seward 
and his party, and their stay was the occasion of the 
last gala season that the place has known. Mr. 
Seward and his son had gone out to San Francisco 
by the newly-completed lines of the Union and 
Central Pacific Railroad, intending to continue their 
travels into Mexico. He casually mentioned before 
Mr. W. C. Ralston, the banker, that he hoped some 
time to go to his territory of Alaska. Within a few 
hours after that Mr. Ralston wrote him that there were 
two steamers at his service, if he would accept one 
for a trip to Alaska. The fur company offered their 
steamer, the Fideliter, and Mr. Ben Holladay put the 
steamer Active at the disposal of Mr. Seward and his 
party. Mr. Holladay's offer was accepted, and his 
best and favorite commander. Captain C. C. Dall, was 
given charge of the Active, and everything provided 
for a long yachting trip. The others invited by Mr. 
Seward to partake of this magnificent hospitality 
were his son Frederick W. Seward and his wife, 
Judge Hastings, of San Francisco, Mr. and Mrs. 
Smith, of St. Louis, Hon. W. S. Dodge, revenue 
collector and mayor of Sitka, Hon. John H. Kinkead, 


postmaster and post trader at Sitka, and Captain 
Franklin of the British Navy, a nephew of the 
lamented Sir John Franklin. They left San Fran- 
cisco on the 13th of July, 1869, and, touching at 
Victoria, reached Sitka July 30. The Ex-Secretary 
was received with a military salute on landing, and 
went to the house of Mayor Dodge. He kept the 
Russian Sabbath by attending service in the Greek 
church on our Saturday, and the American Sabbath, 
by listening to the post chaplain in the Lutheran 
church on the following day. Like many visitors 
since then, Mr. Seward said, at the end of his second 
day, that he had met every inhabitant, and knew all 
about them and their affairs. On another day General 
Davis gave a state reception at the castle, and Mr. 
Seward being dissuaded from his original plan of 
going up to Mount St. Elias, lest, after the voyage 
across a rough sea, he should find the monarch of the 
continent hidden in clouds, made up a party for the 
Chilkat country instead. General Davis and his 
family, two staff officers, and a few citizens, were 
invited to join them, and they went in by Peril Straits 
to Kootznahoo, and then up to the mouth of the 
Chilkat River. The incidents of their visit to Kloh- 
Kutz in his village have been related in a preceding 
chapter. Adding Professor Davidson and his assist- 
ants to their party, the Active returned to Kootz- 
nahoo, and visited the coal mine near Chief Andres 
village, and spent another day on a fishing frolic in 
Clam Bay. On his return to Sitka Mr. Seward was 
the guest of General Davis at the castle, and on the 
evening before his departure he addressed the as- 
sembled citizens in the Lutheran church. He took 


leave with regret, and sailed away with a military 
salute on a clear and radiant day. They touched 
at the Takou glacier and Fort Wrangell, went up 
the Stikine River to the mining camps on the bars 
near the boundary line, and last visited Fort Ton- 
gass. The adjoining village of Tongass Indians, with 
its many fine ^oU7ft poles and curious houses, was 
very interesting to them, and the old chief Eb- 
bitts paid great honors to the Tyee of all the Tyees. 
Mr. Seward carried away a large collection of Alaska 
curios and souvenirs, and his lavish purchases quite 
shook the curio markets of those days. By the 
etiquette of the country the fur robes laid for him to 
sit on in the chief's lodges were his forever after, and 
the exchange of gifts consequent upon such hospi- 
talities made his visits memorable to the chiefs by 
\\iQ. potlatcJies left them. Mr. Seward carried home 
a dance cloak covered with Chinese coins, that the 
Russians had probably gotten during the days of their 
large trade with China, and sold to the Indians for furs. 
When the Chinese embassy visited Mr. Seward at 
Auburn, they gave him the names of the coins, and 
some of them dated back to the twelfth and fifth cen- 
turies, and to the first years of the Christian era. A 
quantity of Alaska cedar was taken east, and, in com- 
bination with California laurel, was used in the panel- 
lings and furnishings of the Seward mansion at 

A year later Lady Franklin went to Sitka on the 
troop-ship Newbern, and for three weeks was enter- 
tained at the castle, and occupied the same corner 
guest-chamber already made historic by Mr. Seward. 
At that time, 1870, she was nearly eighty years of 


age, but she was a most active and wonderful woman. 
She was accompanied by her niece, Miss Cracroft, 
who was her private secretary, and her object in 
visiting Alaska was to trace rumors that she had 
heard of the finding of relics of her husband. It 
was a fruitless search, and the widow of Sir John 
Franklin only lived for five years after this second 
trip to the Pacific coast in quest of tidings of the lost 

With the exception of these incidents, Sitka grew 
duller and more lifeless by a slow-descending scale, 
with every year that succeeded the transfer of the 
territory to the United States. The officers of the 
garrison chafed under the isolation from even the re- 
mote frontiers of Washington Territory and Oregon, 
and the soldiers kept tumult rising in the Indian vil- 
lage. After ten years' occupation the military sailed 
away one day in 1877, and as no civil government 
was established to succeed their rule, the inhabitants 
were in despair. In a short time the Indians began 
to presume upon their immunity from punishment, 
and distilling their hoochinoo openly and without hin- 
drance, soon had pandemonium raging in the ranch- 
erie and overflowing into the town. They burned 
the deserted quarters and buildings on the parade 
ground, killed and mutilated cattle, and the Russian 
priest was powerless to prevent the defilement of his 
church by crowds of lazy, indolent Indians, who lay 
on the church steps and gambled on any and every 
day. Trouble was precipitated by the Indians mur- 
dering a white man in November, 1878. The murder- 
ers were arrested by some friendly Indians and put in 
the guard-house, and immediately the whole village 



was in arms. The white citizens, who had been 
appealing for the protection of their own government 
before this, were virtually in a state of siege and at 
the mercy of the enraged Siwashes. The murderers 
were sent to Oregon for trial, but still their people 
raged. The three hundred white people were out- 
numbered two and three times by the Indians, 
and all winter they were in momentary dread of a 
final uprising and a massacre. The Russians ar- 
ranged to gather at the priest's house at any sign of 
disturbance, and the collector of customs prepared 
to send his family below. 

When all hope of help from their own government 
was gone, the citizens made a last, desperate appeal 
for protection to the British admiral at Victoria. 
Without waiting for diplomatic fol-de-rol. Captain 
A'Court, of H. M. S. Osprey, made all haste to 
Sitka on his humane errand. He reached there in 
March, 1879, ^.nd quiet was immediately restored. 
Three weeks later the little revenue cutter Oliver 
Wolcott came in, and anchored under the protecting 
guns of the big British war ship. The Indians 
laughed in scorn, and the British captain himself felt 
that it would be wrong to leave the people with such 
small means of defence at hand. Early in April the 
United States steamer Alaska came, and then the Os- 
prey left. The captain of the Alaska declared his pres- 
ence unnecessary, the Indian scare groundless, and, 
cruising off down the coast and back to more attract- 
ive regions, left the people again at the mercy of the 
Indians. The naval authorities, after receiving the 
report and recommendations of Captain A'Court, had 
the grace to order the Alaska back, and it remained 


in the harbor of Sitka until relieved by the sailing 
shiy Jajnestowny June 14. 

T\\Q Jamestown was commanded by Captain Lester 
A. Beardslee, who instituted many reforms, cruised 
through all parts of the archipelago, kept the Indians 
under control, and finally made an official report, 
which is one of the most valuable contributions to 
the recent history of Alaska. He was succeeded in 
command of the Jamestowji by Captain Glass, an 
officer who displayed marked abilities in his manage- 
ment of the charge entrusted to him. He exhibited 
a firmness that kept the natives in check, and exer- 
cised justice and humanity in a way to win the ap- 
proval of those cunning readers of character. He 
made the Indians clean up their 7'ancheriey straighten 
out the straggling double line of houses along shore, 
and then he had each house numbered, and its occu- 
pants counted and recorded. By his census of Sitka, 
taken Feb. i, 1881, there were 1,234 inhabitants; 
840 of these were in the Indian village, and only 394 
souls composed the white settlement. He had a 
"round-up " of the native children one day, and each 
little redskin was provided with a tin medal, with 
a number on it, and forthwith ordered to attend the 
school, at peril of his parents being fined a blanket 
for each day's absence. Aside from this benevolent 
and paternal work, the big Tyee of the Jamestozvn 
used to terrify the natives by his sudden raids upon 
the moonshiners, who made the fiery and forbidden 
hoochinoo with illicit stills. 

He supervised treaties of peace between the Sti- 
kine and Kootznahoo tribes, between the Stikine and 
Sitka tribes, and kept a naval protectorate over the 


infant mining camp at Juneau, until he was relieved 
by Commander Lull, with the steamer Wachusetty in 
1 88 1. The fascination of the north country brought 
Captain Glass back, in command of the Wachtisett, in 
three months' time, and he remained at the head of 
Alaskan affairs for another year. 

In October, 1882, Captain Merriman was detailed 
for the Alaska station, in command of the Adams^ 
and for a year he and his ship played an important 
part in local history. He visited all the points in the 
archipelago, fought the great naval battle of Kootz- 
nahoo, and cruised off to the settlements on the 
Aleutian Islands. Peace and order reigned in the 
rancherie at Sitka, the Indians and miners of Juneau 
were chastised when they deserved it, and protected 
in what few rights they or any one had in the aban- 
doned territory, and crooked traders and distillers of 
Jioochinoo had an unfortunate time of it. 

The Adams was the only visible sign of the nation's 
power for which the Indians had any great respect, 
and the nation's importance was advanced tenfold 
when the "big Tyee " silenced the unruly Kootz- 
nahoos. He was called upon to act as umpire, 
referee, probate and appellate judge, and arbiter in 
all vexed questions, in addition to his general duties 
as protector and preserver of the peace. With the 
Naval Register and the United States Statutes for 
code and reference. Captain Merriman exercised 
a general police duty about the territory. He main- 
tained a paternal government and protectorate over 
the Indians, and the judgment of Solomon had often 
to be paralleled in deciding the issues of internecine 
and domestic wars. He had often to put asunder 



those whom Siwash ceremonies or the missionaries 
had joined together, to protect the young men who 
refused to marry their great-uncles' widows, to inter- 
fere and save the lives of those doomed to torture and 
death for witchcraft, to prevent the killing of slaves 
at the great funerals and potlatcheSy and to look after 
the widows' and orphans' shares in the blankets of 
some great estate. For these delicate and diplomatic 
duties Captain Merriman was well fitted. The dig- 
nity and ceremony that marked all his intercourse 
with the natives raised him in their esteem, and his 
firm and impartial judgment, his kindness and con- 
sideration, so won them, that there were wailing 
groups on the wharf when he sailed away from 
Sitka, and they still chant the praises of this good 
Tyee, who will always be a figure in history to 

Captain J. B. Coghlan succeeded him in command 
of the Adams, and the Indians having been in the 
main peaceful, and the mining camp all quiet. Captain 
Coghlan gave a great deal of time to careful survey- 
ing of the more frequented channels of the inside pas- 
sage. He marked off with buoys the channel through 
Wrangell Narrows, marked the more dangerous rocks 
and the channel in Peril Straits, corrected the errone- 
ous position of several bays and coves, examined and 
reported new anchorages, and designated unknown 
rocks and ledges in Saginaw Channel and Neva Strait. 
In addition to this practical part of his profession. 
Captain Coghlan looked to the other interests con- 
fided to him. He visited all the Indian settlements, 
looked up their abandoned villages, encouraged pro- 
spectors and kept a keen eye on all mineral discover- 


ies. An especial want in Alaska is a good coal 
mine, and although there are seams of it all through 
the islands, none of it is valuable for steaming pur- 
poses, and the Nanaimo coal has to be relied upon. 
Early voyagers discovered coal a half century ago, 
and a vein on Admiralty Island has been regularly 
discovered and announced to the world by every 
skipper who has touched there since. Captain 
Coghlan was keenly alive to the importance of finding 
good coal in this favored end of the territory, and he 
told the story of the latest discovery in a way to 
make his listeners weep from laughter. 

While out on a survey trip one day, an Indian came 
to him mysteriously and said : " Heap coal up stream 
here," at the same time stealthily showing a lump of 
the genuine article. Quietly, and so as to attract as 
little attention as possible, the captain, two sporting 
friends, and the Indian started off, ostensibly duck- 
hunting. After they left the harbor of Sitka the 
Indian led the way up a narrow channel, and turned 
into St. John the Baptist's Bay, where careful and 
extensive surveys had been conducted but a short 
time before. The officers began to look amazed, but 
the Indian led on until he beached his canoe and 
triumphantly showed them a pile of anthracite coal 
stored under the roots of the tree. The coal-hunters 
recognized it as some of the anthracite coal that had 
been sent from Philadelphia, and this lot had been 
stored there for the convenience of the steam 
launches, on their trips between the ship and points 
where they were surveying in Peril Straits. Securing 
the quiet of the Indian, the officers went back to the 
ship, and after a few days gave specimens of coal to 


different experts on board. Tons of the same article 
lay in the bunkers under them, but the experts went 
seriously to work with their clay pipes and careful 
tests. None of them agreed about it. One of them 
declared it good coal, of good steaming quality and 
pure ash. Another one said it was lignite, and of no 
value, and never could be used for steaming. Rumors 
of the discovery of a coal mine soon spread through 
Sitka, and one man started out to follow up what he 
supposed had been the course of the coal-hunters, with 
the evil intent of jumping that mine. The ship was 
just starting off on a cruise, so followed the jumper, 
and overtaking him in his lone canoe at Killisnoo, 
the coal-hunter turned pale and nearly died with fright 
lest he should be punished with naval severity for his 
wicked designs. The joke on the coal-hunters, the 
coal experts, and the would-be jumper of the coal 
mine made the ship ring when it was told. 

In August, 1884, the Adams sailed away from 
Sitka, and its place was taken by the PintUy under 
the command of Captain H. E. Nichols, who for 
several years did most valuable work in the southern 
part of the archipelago while in command of the coast- 
survey steamer Hassler. His surveys were the basis 
for many of the new charts of that region that accom- 
panied the Alaska Coast Pilot of 1883, compiled by 
Prof. W. H. Dall, and his return with the Pinta allows 
him to continue his surveys. 

The Pinta is one of fifteen tugs or despatch boats 
built during the war for use at the different navy 
yards. It did service for many years at the Brooklyn 
yard, but became notorious about two years ago 
while undergoing repairs at the Norfolk yard. An 


unconscionable sum was spent in repairing ; a local 
election was helped on, or rather off, by this means, 
and the board of officers called to survey and report 
upon the Pinta when the work was completed un- 
hesitatingly condemned it, and declared it unsea- 
worthy. A second survey was called in this awkward 
dilemma, and on the trial trip the much-tinkered 
ship made about four knots an hour. It went up to 
Boston, ran into the brig Tally-Ho that lay at anchor 
there, and more of its officers were brought up before 
a court of inquiry. A daring officer was at last found 
willing to peril his life in taking the Pmta around 
the Horn, and to attempt this hazardous exploit the 
armament was dispensed with until it should reach 
the Mare Island navy yard in California. It started 
the latter part of November, and reached San Fran- 
cisco at the end of May, where more repairs were 
made, its guns mounted, and it then cleared for its 
new station. Its detail comprises seven officers and 
forty men, and a detachment of thirty marines quar- 
tered at Sitka for shore duty. 

These naval officers connected with Alaska affairs 
have received great commendation for the course 
pursued by them in the Territory, and the history of 
the naval protectorate is in bright contrast to the 
less creditable operations of military rule. As the 
character of the country has become known, the use- 
lessness of a land force has been appreciated, and 
it is most probable that a man-of-war will always be 
stationed in this growing section of the territory. 
Several naval officers, enjoying and appreciating the 
beautiful country, have made special requests to be 
returned to the Alaska station, and are enthusiastic 


over the region that knows neither newspapers nor 
high hats. They have many compensations for the 
larger social life they are deprived of, and are envied 
by all the tourists who meet them. For the sports- 
men there are endless chances for shooting every- 
thing from humming-birds to ducks, eagles, deer, and 
bear. The anglers tell fish stories that turn the 
scales of all the tales that were ever told, and the 
lovers of nature feast on scenes that ordinary travel- 
lers cannot reach, and but dimly dream of in this 
hurried touch-and-go of an Alaskan cruise. In 
the curio line they have the whole Territory where- 
from to choose, and the stone, the copper, and the 
modern age yield up their choicest bits for their 
collections. A practical man has told me that there 
is the place where the officers can save their money, 
wear out their old clothes, and learn patience and 
other Christian virtues by grace of the slow monthly 
mail. Some few amuse themselves with a study of 
the country and its people; and the origin, tribal 
relations, family distinctions, and mythology of the 
Indians open a boundless field to an inquiring mind. 
They come across many odd characters and strange 
incidents among the queer, mixed population, and 
gather up most astonishing legends. One frivolous 
government officer, stationed for a long time in the 
Territory, once electrified some Alaska enthusiasts 
in a far-away city by putting out his elbows, and 
drawling with Cockney accent : " Ya-as ! Alaska is 
all very well for climate, and scenery, and Indians, 
and that sort of thing, but a man loses his grip on 
society, you know, if he stays there long ! " 

It took seventeen years to date from the signing 



of the treaty until the Congress of the United States 
grudgingly granted a skeleton form of government 
to this one Territory that has proved itself a paying 
investment from the start. Every year the President 
called the attention of Congress to the matter, and 
once the commander of a Russian man-of-war on the 
Pacific coast announced his intention of going up to 
Sitka to examine into the defenceless and deplorable 
condition of the Russian residents, to whom the 
United States had not given the protection and civil 
rights guaranteed in the treaty. He never carried out 
his intentions, however, and the neglected citizens 
had to wait. 

After innumerable petitions and the presentation 
in Congress of some thirty bills to grant a civil gov- 
ernment to Alaska, the inhabitants were on the point 
of having the Russian residents of the Territory unite 
in a petition to the Czar, asking him to secure for 
them the protection and the rights guaranteed in 
the treaty of 1869. The Russian government would 
doubtless have enjoyed memorializing the United 
States in such a cause, after the way the republic 
has taken foreign governments to task for the perse- 
cutions of Jews, peasants, and subjects within Eu- 
ropean borders. 

Senator Harrison's bill to provide a civil govern- 
ment for Alaska was introduced on the 4th of 
December, 1883, and, with amendments, passed the 
Senate on the 24th of January, 1884. It was ap- 
proved by the House of Representatives on the 13th 
of May, and, receiving President Arthur's signature, 
Alaska at last became a Territory, but not a land dis- 
trict of the United States, anomalous as that may 


Hon. John H. Kinkead, ex-Governor of Nevada, 
and who had once resided at Sitka as postmaster and 
post trader, was made the first executive. The other 
officers of this first government were : John G. Brady, 
Commissioner at Sitka; Henry States, Commissioner 
at Juneau ; George P. Ihrie, Commissioner at Fort 
Wrangell ; Chester Seeber, Commissioner at Ouna- 
laska ; Ward MacAllister, jr.. United States District 
Judge; E. W. Haskell, United States District Attor- 
ney; M. C. Hillyer, United States Marshal for the 
District of Alaska ; and Andrew T. Lewis, Clerk of 
Court. These officers reached their stations in Sep- 
tember, 1884, and the rule of civil law followed the 
long interregnum of military, man-of-war, and revenue 
government in the country that was not a Territory, 
but only a customs district, and an Indian reservation 
without an agent. 

The most sanguine do not expect to see Alaska 
enter the sisterhood of States during this century, 
but they claim with reason that southeastern Alaska 
will develop so rapidly that it will become necessary 
to make it a separate Territory with full and complete 
form of government, and skeleton rule be confined to 
the dreary and inhospitable regions of the Yukon 

The citizens who have struggled against such tre- 
mendous odds for so many years were rather bitter 
in their comments upon the tardy and ungracious 
action of Congress in giving them only a skeleton 
government ; and the Russians and Creoles are more 
loyal to the Czar at heart, after experiencing these 
seventeen years in a free country. To a lady who 
tried to buy some illusion or tulle in a store at Sitka, 


the trader blurted out, "No, ma'am, there's no illu- 
sion in Alaska. It 's all reality here, and pretty hard 
at that, the way the government treats us." 

The dim ideas that the outside world had of the 
condition of Alaska was evinced by the stories Major 
Morris used to tell of dozens of letters that were 
addressed to **The United States Consul at Sitka." 
Governors of States and more favored Territories 
regularly sent their Thanksgiving Proclamations to 
"The Governor of Alaska Territory," long before 
the neglected country had any such an official as a 
governor, or any right to such a courteous appellation 
as "Territory." 




ALTHOUGH the pride of this most advanced 
and enlightened nation of the earth is its pub- 
lic school system, the United States has done noth- 
ing for education in Alaska. According to Petroff's 
historical record, from which the following resume is 
made, the Russian school system began in 1874, 
when Gregory Shelikoff, a founder and director of 
the fur company, established a small school at Ko- 
diak. He taught only the rudiments to the native 
Aleuts, and his wife instructed the women in sewing 
and household arts. Through Shelikoff's efforts the 
empress, Catherine H., by special ukase of June 30, 
1793, instructed the metropolite Gabriel to send mis- 
sionaries to her American possessions. In 1794 the 
archimandrite, Ivassof, seven clergymen, and two lay- 
men reached Kodiak. Germand, a member of this 
party, established a school on Spruce Island, and for 
forty years gave religious instruction and agricultural 
and industrial teachings to the natives. 

In 1820 a school was established at Sitka, and 
instruction given in the Russian language and re- 
ligion, the fundamental branches, navigation, and the 
trades; the object in all these schools maintained by 


the government and the fur company being to raise 
up competent navigators, clerks, and traders for the 
company's ranks. 

In 1824 Ivan Veniaminoff landed at Ounalaska, 
and began his mission work among the Aleuts. He 
translated the Scriptures for them, and compiled a 
vocabulary of their language, and in 1838 he went 
back to Irkutsk and was made bishop of the inde- 
pendent diocese of Russian America. Returning to 
Alaska, he estabUshed himself at Sitka, founded the 
Cathedral church, and undertook the conversion of 
the Koloschians, or Thlinkets. He studied their lan- 
guage, translated books of the Testament, hymns, 
and a catechism, and wrote several works upon the 
Aleuts and Thlinkets, which are still the authority 
upon all that relates to their peculiar rites, supersti- 
tions, beliefs, and customs. 

In the year 1840 Captain Etolin, a Creole, educated 
in the colonial school at Sitka, became governor and 
chief director of the fur company, and, during his ad- 
ministration of affairs, educational matters received 
their full share of attention. A preparatory school 
was founded by Etolin, who adopted the wisest mea- 
sures for its success. Religious teachings were given 
in all the schools, and arithmetic, astronomy, and nav- 
igation were considered important branches. Etolin 
himself was a fine navigator, and, while in command 
of the company's ships, he made a survey of the 
coast, and a map which is still considered authority. 
His wife established a school for Creole girls, educat- 
ing them in the common branches and household du- 
ties, and furnishing them with dowries when they 
married the company's officers or employees. In 


1 84 1 Veniaminoff founded a theological seminary at 
Sitka, and it was maintained until the transfer of the 
territory and the removal of the bishop's see to Kam- 
schatka. In i860 the school system was reorganized 
by a commission, the scope and efficiency of the in- 
stitution increased, and thorough training in the sci- 
ences and higher branches afforded. 

In 1867 the territory passed into the possession of 
the United States, the Russian support was with- 
drawn from the schools, and educational affairs have 
been at a standstill ever since. No rights were re- 
served for the Indians in the treaty of 1867, so that 
there is no real " Indian Question " involved. The 
Treasury regulations forbidding the importation or 
sale of intoxicating liquors makes the whole Territory 
an Indian reservation in one sense ; but there have 
never been any treaties with the tribes ; there are no 
Indian agents within the boundaries ; and, uncontami- 
nated by the system of government rations and an- 
nuity goods, the parties have been left free, with but 
one exception, to work out their own civilization. 

In leasing the Seal Islands to the Alaska Commer- 
cial Company, the government bound the company 
" to maintain a school on each island, in accordance 
with said rules and regulations, and suitable for the 
education of the natives of said islands, for a period 
of not less than eight months in each year." Gov- 
ernment agents have seen that the company kept its 
promises for " the comfort, maintenance, education, 
and protection of the natives of said islands," and 
having provided carefully for these essentials on 
those few square miles of land, the general gov- 
ernment omitted to do anything for the rest of the 


great country and its 33,246 native inhabitants, who 
are certainly as much entitled to educational aid as 
the inhabitants of the nearer Territories and the 
Southern States. The Alaska Commercial Company 
has maintained schools on St. Paul's and St. George's 
islands as agreed, and, becoming interested in the 
rapid progress made by one very bright and clever 
young Aleut at St. Paul's, the company sent him to 
Massachusetts to complete his studies. They paid 
all his expenses for five years, and he left the Massa- 
chusetts State Normal School with credit, and is now 
in charge of the schools at the Seal Islands, an intel- 
ligent and highly esteemed young man, in whom the 
company takes a natural pride. 

According to the census report of 1880, the native 
population of Alaska numbers 33,246. Of this num- 
ber 7,225 are Thlinkets and Haidas, inhabiting the 
southeastern part of the Territory, and Petroff gives 
the following enumeration of the tribes : — 


Chilkat 988 

Hooniah 908 

Kootznahoo 666 

Kake 568 

Auk 640 

Taku 269 

Stikine 317 

Prince of Wales Id. (West Coast) .... 587 

Tongass 273 

Sitka 721 

Yakutat 500 

Haida 788 

Total 7,225 


While the military garrison was at Sitka, the wives 
of the officers taught classes of the natives every 
Sunday, and when General O. O. Howard's atten- 
tion was directed to the matter, during a trip through 
the country, he reported the condition of affairs to 
the mission boards. The Presbyterian Board was the 
first to enter the field, Mrs. McFarland establishing 
the school at Fort Wrangell in 1877. I^ ^^7^ ^ 
school was started at Sitka ; in 1880 one was estab- 
lished at Chilkoot Inlet, and after that, one among 
the Hooniahs of Cross Sound, and at Howkan and 
Shakan, among the Haidas. A school for Russian 
and Creole children was maintained at Sitka in 1879, 
under the protection of Captain Glass, U.S.N., whose 
efforts in the cause of Indian education have already 
been recorded. 

The Indians are quick to learn and anxious to be 
taught, and, appreciating the practical advantages of 
an education, they unceasingly beg for teachers and 
schools. The only drawback to their upward pro- 
gress is their want of all moral sense or instincts. 
The missionary teachers sent out by the Presbyte- 
rian Board have been well received by the Indians, 
but, on account of a few unfortunate instances, are 
not popular with the white residents. The native 
chiefs have often given up the council-houses and 
their own lodges to them for school-rooms, and taken 
the instructors under their special protection. 

Recognition was at last given to the rights and the 
wants of these people in 1884, and in section 13 of 
the "Act providing a civil government for Alaska," 
an appropriation of $25,000 was made for the educa- 
tion of all children of school age, without reference to 


race. The public schools contemplated in this act 
are yet to be established, as the civil officers have 
first to inspect, and make their reports and sugges- 
tions as to the wisest disposal of the fund. 

At the same session of the forty-eighth Congress, 
the Indian appropriation bill made this provision: 
*' For the support and education of Indian children of 
both sexes at industrial schools in Alaska, ^15,000." 
The Presbyterian Board of Missions, through the Rev. 
Dr. Kendall, made application for a portion of this 
fund in 1884, and the Commissioner of Indian Af- 
fairs, in his letter recommending that it should be 
granted, said : — 

"In the total neglect of the government (since 
Alaska was purchased) to provide for the educational 
needs of Alaska Indians, they have been indebted 
for such schools as they have had solely to religious 
societies, and for most of these schools they are in- 
debted to the society which Dr. Kendall represents. 
For the establishment and support of its schools that 
society, last year, expended over $20,000, and also 
expended nearly $5,000 for mission work. In the en- 
largement of their educational work in Alaska, they 
have therefore the first claim to assistance from the 
appropriation recently made by government for the 
support of schools in Alaska. Moreover, they have 
now on the ground officers and employees who can 
carry on the work." 

A contract was therefore made with the mission 
authorities at Sitka for the education and care of one 
hundred pupils, at an expense to the government of 
$120 per capita per annum, the expenditure to be 
made in quarterly payments from the appropriation 


named above. It was estimated that for the first 
year the whole expenditure would not exceed ^9,000 
or ;^ 10,000. The contracts are temporary, and can 
be annulled at two months' notice should a different 
policy prevail at headquarters ; and the original inten- 
tion of establishing a government industrial school 
after the plan of the successful institution at Carlisle 
Barracks, Pa., will probably not be carried out for 
some time. 

The Roman Catholics built a chapel at Fort Wran- 
gell some years ago, but it has been closed for a long 
time, and there are no missions of that church now 
maintained in southeastern Alaska at least. It would 
seem as though this were a field particularly adapted 
to the efforts of the Jesuits, who have always been so 
successful among the native tribes of the Pacific 

Two Moravian missionaries from Bethlehem, Pa., 
the Rev. Adolphus Hartman and the Rev. William 
Weinland, were taken up to the Yukon region by the 
U. S. S. Corwm in the spring of 1884, and will devote 
themselves to mission work among the Indians of 
the interior. 




WHEN the steamer gets ready to leave Sitka, 
there is always regret that the few days in that 
port could not have been weeks. There are always 
regrets, too, at not seeing Mount St. Elias, when the 
passengers realize that the ship has begun the return 
voyage. Mr. Seward was most desirous of seeing 
Mount St. Elias from the sea, but was deterred from 
carrying out his plan by the stories of the rough 
water to be crossed, and the certainty of fogs and 
clouds obscuring his view when he reached the bay 
at the base of the great mountain. There are sel- 
dom any passengers or freight billed for Mount St. 
EUas, and the mail contract does not require the 
steamer to run up that three hundred miles to north- 
westward of Sitka and call at the mountain each 
month. The U. S. S. Adams carried some prospec- 
tors up to Yakutat Bay in 1883, and its officers took 
that opportunity of visiting the great glacier that 
fronts for seventy miles on the coast at the foot of 
the giant peak of North America. One of the officers 
made a series of admirable water-color sketches, but 
no angles were taken to determine the exact height 
of the mountain, and the elevation of the untrodden 
summit is not yet determined with precision. 


In June, 1884, the Ida/to went up to the mouth 
of Copper River to land Lieutenant Abercrombie, 
U. S. A., and his exploring party, and the pilot's story 
of the radiantly clear sky, and the view of Mount St. 
Elias, one hundred and fifty miles away, added poig- 
nancy to the regrets of the July passengers. From 
a height of 17,500 feet, the mountain has now risen 
to 19,500 feet, according to the latest " Coast Pilot," 
and somewhere it has been given an elevation of 
23,000 feet above the sea. Fame and glory await the 
mountain-climber who reaches its top, and every 
American who rides up the Righi, or has a guide pull 
him up other Alpine summits, should blush that a 
grander mountain in his own country, the highest 
peak of the continent, too, has never yet been accu- 
rately measured, or explored, or ascended. 

When, as the log says, " the ship lets go from 
Sitka wharf," there are two routes to choose in start- 
ing southward. One leads out through the beautiful 
Sitka Sound, and past Mount Edgecumbe, to the 
open sea, and then the course is down the shore of 
Baranoff Island and around Cape Ommaney to the 
inside waters. The mountain outlines of the Baranoff 
shore are particularly fine from the ocean, but a lands- 
man finds more beauty in the peaks and ranges as 
seen from the quiet waters of Chatham Strait on the 
other side of the island. Cape Ommaney, in rough 
weather, is more dreaded by mariners than the Co- 
lumbia River bar, and wits and punsters take liberties 
with its name when they round Cape Ommaney in a 
head wind and chop sea. The Pacific raises some 
mighty surges off that point, and there are small 
islands and hidden rocks on all sides of it. Vancouver 



had to anchor for several days in a little bight before 
he could venture around the cape, and in later times 
it has been a place of peril and anxiety to the navi- 
gators of the coast. 

The other route from Sitka leads around the north 
end of Baranoff Island, and through Peril Straits 
across to Chatham Strait. Peril Straits is a narrow 
gorge or channel between the two mountainous 
islands of Chicagoff and Baranoff, and is strewn 
through all of its tortuous way with rocks and ledges 
over which the rushing tides pour in eddies and 
rapids. Several wrecks have occurred in this danger- 
ous passage, and in May, 1883, the freight steamer 
Eureka struck a rock, and was beached near shore in 
time to save it from complete destruction. All lives 
were saved, and the crew and salvage corps had a 
camp near the wreck for three weeks, before the 
ship was raised and taken to San Francisco for 

It was aptly named Peril, or Pogibshi, Strait, by the 
Russians, though Petroff says that it was called that 
on account of the death of one hundred of Baranoff's 
Aleut hunters, who were killed by eating poisonous 
mussels there, rather than on account of its reefs and 
furious tides. It takes a daring and skilful navigator 
to carry a ship through that dangerous reach, and it 
is something fine to watch Captain Carroll, when he 
puts extra men at the wheel and sends his big steamer 
plunging and flying through the rapids. The yard- 
arms almost touch the trees on the precipitous shores, 
and the bow heads to all the points of the compass in 
turn, as "the salt, storm-fighting old captain" stands 
on the bridge, with his hands run deep in his great-coat 


pockets, and drops an occasional "Stab'bord a bit!" 
" Hard a stab'bord ! " or " Port your helm ! " down the 
trap-door to the men at the wheel. Aside from its 
evil fame, it is a most picturesque and beautiful chan- 
nel, the waters a clear, deep green, and the shores 
clothed with dense forests of darker green. 

Captain Coghlan made a survey of Peril Straits be- 
fore leaving Alaska, and marked off the channel with 
buoys. He found so many rocks and reefs that had 
been unsuspected, that the mariners said that they 
would never dare to venture through Peril Straits 
again, after learning how rock-crowded and dangerous 
it was. 

Down Chatham Strait, green and snow-covered 
mountains rise on either side, and on the shores of 
Admiralty Island marble bluffs show like patches of 
snow on the long shore line of eternal green. The 
old Indian village of Kootznahoo, the "Bear Fort" of 
the natives, lies in a cove on the Admiralty shore, 
and, from first to last, the Kootznahoo tribe have 
proved an unruly set. They made hostile demon- 
strations to Vancouver's men when they explored 
the strait, and in 1869 the authorities had to deal 
severely with them, destroying a village and carrying 
the chief away as hostage, or prisoner, on the U. S. S. 
Saginaw. In October, 1882, the shelling of this 
Kootznahoo village by Captain Merriman, U. S. N., 
made a great stir, and editors six thousand miles 
away heaped vituperation and invective upon the 
head of that officer, without waiting to know of any- 
thing but the bare fact of the shelling. The docility 
of the Indians since then, and the expressed approval 
of the Tyee's action by the chiefs of the tribe, prove 


how efficacious his course was at the battle of Kootz- 
nahoo. In Alaska, where the history of that bom- 
bardment is still fresh, and the survivors are walking 
about in paint and nose rings, the whole thing wears 
a different aspect, and fragments that one remembers 
of those blazing editorials appear now as most laugh- 
able. Every scribe brought in a ringing sentence 
about the "eternal ice and snows of an arctic winter;" 
but they don't have arctic winters in this part of 
Alaska, as a study of the Japan Current and the 
isothermal lines will show, and while the battle raged 
the thermometer stood higher than it did in New 
York. Other errors were bound to creep in where 
the fires of enthusiasm were kindled with so little in- 
formation, and to the officers and people of Sitka the 
newspapers were a source of unending entertainment 
when the bombardment of Kootznahoo began to reach 
their columns. 

As related on the spot, that Kootznahoo story of the 
torpedo and the whale is Homeric in its simplicity. 
Some Indians went out in a canoe with the white men 
employed by the Northwest Trading Company at Kil- 
lisnoo. While paddling towards a whale, one of the 
bombs attached to a harpoon exploded and killed an 
Indian. If it had been a common Indian, nothing 
would ever have been heard of the incident, but when 
the natives saw their great medicine man laid low, they 
raised an uproar. Going back to first causes, they 
demanded two hundred blankets from the trading 
company as compensation for their loss. The com- 
pany naturally ignored this tax levied by the coroner's 
jury, and straightway there were signs of war. 

The Indians' demand for blood or ransom was made 


Stronger by their capturing one of the white men and 
holding him as hostage, but when they found that he 
was one-eyed they tried to send him back for ex- 
change. They claimed that he was ciiltiLS (worth- 
less), and demanded a whole and sound man for their 
dead shaman. They made ready to murder all the 
white men at the adjoining station, intending, how- 
ever, to spare the agent's wife and children, as they 
afterwards confessed. As the signs of the coming 
trouble were more apparent, the little steamer Fa- 
vorite was sent to Sitka with the agent's family, 
and an appeal made for help to the Adams. Captain 
Merriman returned in the Favorite^ accompanied by 
the revenue cutter Corwiti. 

A great wa-wa was held with the ringleaders and 
marauders, and to their bold demand for the two hun- 
dred blankets. Captain Merriman responded with a 
counter-demand, that the Indians should bring him four 
hundred blankets, and forever after keep the peace, 
or he would shell their village. Mistaking his word for 
that of a common Indian agent, the red men went 
their riotous way, and at dusk of a November after- 
noon the Corwm anchored outside the reef and sent 
the shot hurtling through the village. The Indians 
gathered up their blankets and their stores of winter 
provisions, and took to the woods, but the bombard- 
ment was not so severe, but that a few rascally 
Kootznahoos stayed in the village and plundered the 
abandoned houses. The tribute of blankets was paid, 
the Kootznahoos humbled themselves before the big 
Tyee, or their "good father," and a more docile, pen- 
itent, and industrious community does not exist than 
those same obstreperous Indians. 


The liquor that the Hudson Bay Company and the 
Russian traders furnished to the Indians was very 
weak and very expensive, and the Kootznahoos rest 
some of their claims to distinction on the fact that 
the native drink, or hoocJiinoo^ was first distilled by 
their people. A deserter from a whaling-ship taught 
them the secret, and from molasses or sugar, with 
flour, potatoes, and yeast, they distil the vilest and 
most powerful spirit. An old oil can and a musket 
barrel, or a section of the long, hollow pipe of the 
common seaweed {nereiocistwn) furnish the appara- 
tus, and the hoochinoo, quickly distilled, can be used 
at once. After any quantity of it has been made, 
its presence is soon declared, and the Indians are 
frenzied by it. Hoochinoo is the great enemy of 
peace and order, and the customs officers can much 
easier detect a white man smuggling whiskey than 
catch the Indians in the distilling act. It is appa- 
rent enough when they have imbibed the rank and 
fiery spirit, but it is impossible to watch all the 
illicit stills that they set up in their houses, or hide in 
lonely coves and places in the woods. The man-of- 
war is always on the lookout for indications of hoochi- 
noo, and at the first signs a raid is made on a village, 
the houses and the woods searched, and the stills and 
supplies destroyed. With the cunning of a savage 
race they have wonderful ways of hiding it in under- 
ground and up-tree warehouses, and many exciting 
stories are told by the naval officers of the great hoo- 
chinoo raids they have taken part in. 

Liimme or rum, these children of nature some- 
times call the forbidden fluid, as, like their Chinese 
cousins, the Thlinkets are unable to pronounce the 


letter r, and give the /-sound as its equivalent in 
every case. There are many points of resemblance 
between the Kootznahoos and the Orientals ; and 
in writing of the origin of these Thlinket tribes of 
the archipelago, Captain Beardslee, in his official 
report, says : — 

"All of the tribes mentioned except the Kootzna- 
hoos seem to have sprung from a common origin ; they 
speak the same language and have similar customs 
and superstitions, and from these the Kootznahoos 
differ so slightly that a stranger cannot detect the 
difference. Their legend is that originally all lived 
in the Chilkat country ; that there came great floods 
of ice and water, and the country grew too poor to 
support them, and that many emigrated south ; that 
the Auks are outcasts from the Hoonah tribes, and 
the Kakes from the Sitkas, and both tribes deserve 
to be still so considered ; that the Kootznahoos^came 
from over the sea, and the Haidas, who live on Van- 
couver's Island, from the south. I have imbibed an 
impression, which, however, I could not obtain much 
evidence to support, that all of the tribes except the 
Haidas are Oriental, — in every respect they resem- 
ble the Ainos of Japan far more than they do our 
North American Indians, — and that the Kootznahoos 
are of Chinese origin ; while the Haidas, who are 
superior to all of the others in intelligence and skill 
in various handicrafts, are the descendants of the 
boat-loads whom Cortez drove out of Mexico, and 
who vanished to the north." 

All this part of Admiralty Island is a coal field, 
and veins and outcroppings of lignite have been 
found on every side of it, and along the inlets and 


creeks leading to the interior. A good coal mine 
would be worth more than a gold mine, in Alaska, 
and though seams have been discovered with regu- 
larity since 1832, none of the explorers seem to have 
found just the thing yet. In 1868 Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Mitchell explored Kootznahoo Inlet, leading 
into the heart of Admiralty Island, and at the head 
of the perilous channel opened a coal seam. In the 
following year, Mr. Seward's party went up to the 
Mitchell mine, and they were enthusiastic over its 
promises. The coal burned beautifully in the open 
air, but when the real tests were put to it, and it was 
tried in the boiler-room of the ship, it was found to 
contain so much crude resin that it was destruc- 
tion to boiler iron. Geologically, the country is too 
young to have even any very good lignite beds, but 
the archipelago is now swarming with coal prospect- 
ors and coal experts, and there is such a general 
craze for coal that it may yet be forthcoming. At 
present the Nanaimo coal is depended upon entirely 
for steaming purposes, and the mail-steamer has to 
carry its own supply for the whole round trip, and 
take as freight the coal needed for the government 
ships at Sitka. 

After Captain Hooper's mine of true coal at Cape 
Lisburn, on the Arctic coast, the most promising 
indications are at Cook's Inlet and around the Kenai 
peninsula. Although irrelevant in this connection, it 
perhaps naturally follows in this lignite vein to men- 
tion a coal mine accidentally discovered by an En- 
glish yachtsman, Sir Thomas Hesketh, while cruising 
about Kenai. He treed an eagle on a hunting trip, 
and, other means failing to dislodge it, the sportsman 



set fire to the tree. The roots ran down into a coal 
seam, that, taking fire, was burning two years later, 
when the last ship touched there. Another escapade 
of the yachting party was to set a dead monkey 
adrift in a box, and when it washed ashore near 
Kodiak, the Indians, who had had a tradition that 
the evil spirit would come to earth in the shape of 
a little black man, fled that part of the island in ter- 
ror and never went back. 





AROUND the point from Kootznahoo, a sharp 
turn leads through a veritable needle's eye of 
a passage to Koteosok Harbor, made by the natural 
breakwater of a small island lying close to the Admir- 
alty shore. This island was named by Captain Meade 
as Kenasnow, or " near the fort," as the Kootznahoos 
designated it to him. It is a picturesque, fir-crowned 
little island, and its dark, slaty cliffs are seamed with 
veins of pure white marble. Its ragged shores hold 
hundreds of aquariums at low tide, and in the way of 
marine curios there are, besides the skeletons of 
whales, myriads of star fish and jelly fish and barna- 
cles strewing the beach ; the acres of barnacles giving 
off a chorus of faint little clicking sounds as they 
hastily shut their shells at the sound of any one 

On this little island of Kenasnow, the Northwest 
Trading Company has its largest station, Killisnoo, 
where codfish are dried, herring and dogfish con- 
verted into oil, and the air weighted with the most 
horrible smells from the fish guano manufactured 
there. The company has extensive warehouses, 
works, and shops on Kenasnow, and around the build- 
ings there are gathered quite a village of Kootznahoo 


Indians, who are employed at the fishery. This sta- 
tion represents an investment of over $100,000, the 
oil works alone having cost $70,000, and extravagant 
management having doubled all the necessary ex- 
penses of the first plant. As there was no water 
supply on the solid rock of Kenasnow, a reservoir 
with a storage capacity of 90,000 gallons of water 
was constructed ; and, with cedar forests on every 
side, every bit of lumber used was brought by freight 
from below. 

Killisnoo was first established as a whaling station, 
but many causes decided the company to abandon 
that branch of fishery. There is a tradition that the 
Indians once regarded their great totemic beast, the 
whale, with such veneration that they would never 
kill it, nor eat of its flesh and blubber. The Kootz- 
nahoos have grown skeptical in many ways, and they 
made no objections to harpooning the whale, until 
the bomb exploded in 1882; and after the troubles 
following upon that impious adventure, the company 
decided that whaling was not a profitable business, 
and began to fish for cod and smaller fry. 

The codfish are caught in the deeper waters of 
Chatham Strait around the island, the Indians going 
out in the fleet of small boats to fish, and turning 
their catch into large scows, which are towed in by 
the two steam launches that are kept constantly 
busy. Connoisseurs pronounce this cod remarkably 
fine, firm, and white, and as neither hake nor had- 
dock are ever found there, the Killisnoo codfish is 
not open to the same suspicions as rest on so many 
Eastern fish. They average in weight from three to 
five pounds, and the Indians are provided with boats 


and paid two cents apiece for every codfish caught. A 
difficulty in the way of drying in the open air in this 
moist climate has been solved by building a drying- 
house, where the process is accomplished artificially. 
There seems to be no limit to the quantity of fish that 
can be caught, and during one visit at Killisnoo a scow 
was towed in from Gardner Point loaded with eight 
thousand fine large cod, and 1,576 boxes of the dried 
fish were ready to be shipped south. 

From the end of August into January, the waters 
of Chatham Strait are black with herring. The In- 
dians used to catch them with primitive rakes, made 
by driving nails through the end of a piece of board, 
and with this rude implement they could quickly fill 
a canoe with herring, each nail catching two and 
three fish. Seines have supplanted the aborigine's 
hand-rake, and a thousand barrels of silver herring 
have been taken at a single haul, although the average 
haul is about half as many barrels, and requiring 
eleven men to each net then. Each barrel of fish 
yields about three gallons of oil at the oil works, 
which are managed by men who have had charge 
of menhaden fisheries on the Atlantic coast. As 
the result of the first year's work, 82,cxx) gallons of 
herring oil were shipped below in 1883, selling at the 
rate of thirty cents per gallon. Within the year an 
attempt was made towards supplying the cod-liver oil 
of pharmacy, and five cases of it sent below for trial 
received the highest indorsement from physicians. 

More picturesque and less fragrant than the build- 
ings of the company were the log and bark houses of 
the Indians, who have abandoned their old village 
and fort of Kootznahoo, and settled around the Kil- 


lisnoo station. The local celebrity is the famous old 
head chief of the Kootznahoos, Kitchnattior Saginaw 
Jake, who, for the iniquities of his tribe, was carried 
off as a hostage in the man-of-war Saginaw in 1869. 
He was a prisoner for a long time on board that ship 
at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California, and 
when he was afterward returned to his people, he be- 
came an apostle of peace and the greatest friend of 
the white man. He is a crooked, bow-legged old fel- 
low, and he superintended the tying up of the ship in 
a most energetic way. He lurched and tacked across 
the dock, waving his cane wildly to his underlings, 
and giving hoarse, guttural words of the fiercest com- 
mand. He wore a derby hat with a gold band, and 
the uniform coat of a captain of the navy, while two 
immense silver stars on his breast gave his name and 
rank as the Killisnoo policeman, and a dangerous- 
looking billy was suspended from his shoulder by a 
variegated sash. 

Besides being a hostage of war, Kitchnatti was 
once denounced by a terrible shaman, who had an 
incurable patient on hand. The chief was found 
bound and tied for torture, and barely rescued in 
time by naval friends. He has now no respect for 
his own medicine-men, and proved it once by telling 
one of the curio collectors that he knew where there 
was a shaman's grave full of beautiful carvings and 
trophies. He was bidden to get them, and offered a 
price for his grave-robbing. In a few days Jake re- 
appeared, looking sad and despondent. He men- 
tioned the name of a sub-chief, and, with a tone of 
severe disapproval, said : — 

" Heap bad Indian. He rob medicine-man's grave. 
Sell curios to trader. Bad man." 


When Jake spied the photographers on shore, he 
made wild signals, ran off to his cabin, and reap- 
peared clad in fuller regalia ; then, drawing an old 
cutlass, braced himself up in a ** present-arms " atti- 
tude before the camera, and nodded for the operator 
to go on. He then led them to his neatly white- 
washed house, and showed them a cigar-box full of 
letters of credentials and testimonials of character 
given him by naval officers, ship captains, traders, 
and missionaries. All of these Indians have a great 
fancy for these letters. They beg them from every one 
in power, and carry them around tenderly wrapped in 
paper, to show them as certificates of their worth, 
character, and importance. Some of Jake's letters 
were profusely sealed with great splotches of red 
wax, and there is a story that he for a long time 
innocently showed a testimonial, which ran : " The 
bearer of this paper is the biggest scoundrel in 
Alaska. Believe nothing that he says, and look out, 
or he will steal everything in sight." These poor 
old men of letters have many funny jokes played on 
them in this way, and it is really touching to see 
the innocent pride with which they display these 

Jake pointed with pleasure to a row of illuminated 
posters and portraits of theatrical celebrities that 
decorated one wall of his cabin, and explained that 
they were pictures of his friends. The faces were 
those of Nat Goodwin, Gus Williams, John McCul- 
lough, Thomas Keane, and others, and the high col- 
ors and grand attitudes much pleased the old chief. 
In quite another vein Jake pointed to a small box 
tomb on the other side of the channel, where he had 


buried his little daughter a few days before. A flag- 
pole, with a small United States flag at half-mast, 
gave mute testimony to Jake's ideas of patriotism 
and mourning etiquette. His wife betrayed her state 
of grief by wandering about in a black dress, with a 
black umbrella held down closely over her head all of 
the time. 

At Killisnoo blackened faces were almost the rule, 
and every other native woman had her face coated 
with a mixture of seal oil and soot. A group of 
these blackamoors made a picture, as they sat inside 
a cabin door weaving their pretty baskets of the fine 
inside bark and roots of the cedar. One younger 
woman wore a silver pin sticking out through her 
under lip, another had a large wooden labrette in 
her lip ; and when the photographer tried to take the 
group, their neighbors ran up and joined in the 

At Killisnoo, once, the anglers baited their lines 
and hung them overboard, as inducements to the cod- 
fish. The lunch-gong summoned them below, but 
they tied their lines and trusted to some fish swal- 
lowing the hooks while they were gone. When the 
first angler came up and touched his line, his face 
glowed, and he began pulling in the weighty prize. 
When the line left the water a bottle was dangling 
on the end of it, tied with a sailor's knot, and hook 
and bait intact. The second angler drew up a dried 
codfish, and then, when they looked around for the 
captain of the ship, he was nowhere to be found. 

There are a few Kake Indians among the fisher- 
men and workmen at Killisnoo, and their old home 
or proper domain is on Kouiu Island, further down 



Chatham Straits. The Kakes are outcasts and rene- 
gades among the tribes, and, from early days, there 
has been reason for the bad name given them. They 
were hostile, treacherous, and revengeful, and were 
dealt with warily by the old traders. In 1857 a war 
party paddled a thousand miles down to Puget Sound, 
and at Whidby Island murdered Mr. Ebey, a former 
collector of customs at Port Townsend, in retaliation 
for an indignity put upon their men in the preceding 
year. They carried his head back with them, and 
great war dances followed the return of the avenging 

At the north end of Kouiu Island are the ruins of 
the three villages destroyed during the Kake war, in 
1869. The origin and incidents of this war are thus 
sketched in a private letter by Captain R. W. Meade, 
U. S. N., who commanded the U. S. S. SaginazVy at 
that time in Alaskan waters : — 

"The war was due originally to the killing of a 
Kake Indian at Sitka by the sentry on guard at the 
lower end of the town. There had been some trou- 
ble with the Indians outside the stockade, and Gen- 
eral Jeff C. Davis, who commanded the department, 
with headquarters at Sitka, had given orders to pre- 
vent all Indians from leaving Sitka during the night 
— I think it was New Year's night. He had asked 
me to co-operate with him, and my patrol-boats sent 
several canoes back to the Indian village. About 
daylight a canoe was discovered leaving the village. 
The soldier nearest the canoe hailed and ordered the 
canoe back, and as it did not go back after a third or 
fourth hail, fired, killing a Kake Indian. The canoe 
still continued to paddle off, and, though pursued by 


the boats of the Sagmaw, that had seen the firing, 
escaped. Subsequently, in revenge for this, the Kake 
Indians murdered two Sitka traders, Messrs. Maugher 
and Walker, and General Davis determined to punish 
them by destroying their villages. I was asked to 
co-operate, and, although I think the trouble could 
have been avoided in the first place, yet, after the 
wanton murder of two innocent men, I felt it my 
duty to give the Kake tribe — a very ugly one — a 
lesson. We therefore took on board some twenty- 
five soldiers from the garrison at Sitka, and went to 
the Kake country. The Indians abandoned their vil- 
lages on our approach, and three villages were de- 
stroyed by fire and shell. A stockaded fort was also 
destroyed by midshipman, now Lieutenant Bridges, 
of the Saginazu. The Indians were dismayed, and 
no further trouble, I believe, has occurred with them. 
There was no loss of life on either side — it was a 
bloodless war." 

The Kakes have never returned to these villages, 
and in diminished numbers they roam the archi- 
pelago, creating trouble and disturbances wherever 
they draw up their canoes. Their visits are dreaded 
equally by the natives and whites, and Captain 
Beardslee peremptorily ordered them out of Sitka 
when several war canoes, filled with a visiting party, 
came abreast of the rancherie^ shouting and singing 
their peculiar songs. Their unpleasant reputation 
has, doubtless, kept settlers away from Kouiu Island, 
and there is not yet as much as a salmon cannery or 
packing house on its shores. The island is over sixty 
miles long, with an irregular, indented shore, and 
wherever the surveyors have followed its lines they 


have seen forests of yellow cedar. This timber will, 
in time, make Kouiu and the adjoining island of 
Kuprianoff the most valuable land sections in this 
part of the Territory. The yellow cedar is said to 
be the only good ship timber on the Pacific coast, 
and is the only wood that can resist the teredo, 
which eats up the pine piles under wharves in two 
years from the time they are driven. The trees are 
found five and seven feet in diameter, and attain the 
height of one hundred and fifty feet, and the fine, 
closely grained, hard, yellow wood was once exported 
to China in large quantities by the Russians. The 
Chinese valued it for its fine, hard texture, and they 
carved it into chests and small articles, and exported 
it as camphor wood. Its odor is by some said to 
resemble sandal wood, and, by others, garlic, but it 
takes a beautiful satiny polish, and will be as valuable 
as a cabinet wood as for ship timber. Some of it 
that has been sent to Portland has been sold at 
seventy-five dollars a thousand feet, and Mr. Seward 
prized very highly the fine cedar that he carried 
home with him. As there has always been complaint 
of the quality of the Oregon timber, and vessels built 
of its pine could not be insured as A i but for three 
years, it may seem strange that no attempts have 
been made to utilize the vast forests of cedar scat- 
tered through the archipelago. Seven years ago a 
bill was introduced in Congress asking that one hun- 
dred thousand acres of timber land on Kouiu Island 
should be sold to a company, that guaranteed to estab- 
lish a shipyard and build a vessel of twelve hundred 
tons burthen within two years. The same inscrut- 
able reasons that for a long time prevented anything 


being done for the development of Alaska prevented 
the bill from becoming a law. Even the present 
act establishing a form of civil government does not 
make the Territory a land district, and nothing could 
seem more perverse than this action. Timber lands 
can neither be bought nor leased, and as settlers can 
in no way acquire an acre, there are few saw mills in 
the Territory, and their owners are guilty of stealing 
government timber, and liable to prosecution if the 
new officials press things to the finest point. Want 
of lumber has been a serious hindrance and obstacle 
to settlers, and the miners at Juneau had to pay 
freight on, and await the monthly consignments of, 
Oregon pine that were shipped to a country crowded 
with better timber. 




LIKE Kouiu and Kuprianoff islands, the Prince 
of Wales Island is another home of the yellow 
or Alaska cedar. It was named by Vancouver, and 
when the Coast Survey changed his name of the 
George III. Archipelago to the Alexander Archi- 
pelago, this largest island of the group retained its 
former designation. It is from one hundred and fifty 
to two hundred miles long, and from twenty to sixty 
miles wide, but the surveys have never been com- 
plete enough to determine whether it is all one island 
or a group of islands. Great arms of the sea reach 
into the heart of the island, and dense forests of cedar 
cover its hills and dales. The salmon are found in 
the greatest numbers on every side of it, and the pio- 
neer and most successful cannery and packing houses 
-are on its shores. On account of its timber and its 
salmon, it was once proposed to declare the island a 
government reservation of ship timber for the use of 
the navy yards on the Pacific coast, and to lease the 
valuable fisheries. The very mention of Alaska has 
been provocative of roars of laughter in the houses of 
Congress, and though the reservation would have 
been larger than the State of New Jersey, and its 


value incalculable, the wits took their turn at the 
measure and nothing was done. A citizen of Alaska, 
who has chafed under the neglect and indignities put 
upon this Territory, made scathing comments upon 
the debates of both House and Senate, brought about 
by these cedar reservation bills and the bill for a 
Territorial government. His final shot was this : — 

"If those Senators and Congressmen don't know 
any more about the tariff, and the other things that 
they help to discuss, than they do about Alaska, the 
Lord help the rest of the United States. Their igno- 
rance of the commonest facts of geography would dis- 
grace any little Siwash at the Fort Wrangell School. 
What have they paid for all these special government 
reports for, if they don't ever read them when they 
get ready to speak on a foreign subject, to say noth- 
ing of what can be found in the encyclopaedias and 
geographies ? " 

These Alaskans are keenly critical of all that is 
written about their Territory, and they scan newspaper 
accounts with the sharpest eyes for an inaccuracy or 
a discrepancy. The statesmen who have assailed the 
Territory in speeches and debates in Congress are 
condemned with a certain thoroughness and sweep ; 
and to introduce a copy of The Congressional Record, 
containing such efforts, causes even worse explosions 
than the one quoted. It was one of these revengeful 
jokers who laid the scheme for having an eminent 
senator introduce a bill to build a wagon road from 
Fort Wrangell to a point on the Canadian Pacific 
Railroad on the eastern slope of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. An appropriation of $100,000 was asked for, 
and every married citizen was to receive six hundred 


and forty acres of agricultural or grazing land in the 
Territory. As the contemplated highway would lead 
for a thousand miles across British Columbia, through 
the densest woods and over the roughest country, 
and from the island town of Fort Wrangell only ten 
leagues of the route would be within the Alaska 
boundaries, some of the joke can be discovered. 

On the west shore of Prince of Wales Island there 
is a large salmon cannery and saw-mill at Klawak, 
belonging to Messrs. Sisson, Crocker, & Co., of San 
Francisco. It was established in 1878, and the ship- 
ments of salmon are made direct by their own 
schooners to San Francisco, or by their steam launch, 
which makes frequent trips to Kaigahnee and Fort 
Wrangell, the nearest post offices and landings of the 
mail steamer. In 1883 the Klawak cannery shipped 
10,000 cases of salmon to San Francisco, and in 1884, 
8,000 cases were sent below. The Klawak settle- 
ment is off the regular line of the steamer, and rarely 
visited by it, now that the cannery is well established 
and furnished with its own boats ; but it is described 
as one of the many beautiful places in the archipelago 
where the silver salmon run in greatest numbers. 

For salmon fisheries and salmon canneries there 
exists a perfect craze all along the Pacific coast, and 
from the Columbia River to Chilkat such establish- 
ments are projected for every possible place. At 
the most northern point of our cruise we picked up a 
piratical-looking man, in flannel shirt and tucked-up 
trousers, who had been sent to Alaska ** to prospect 
for salmon," by the owners of one of the large can- 
neries at Astoria, Oregon. This piscatorial pros- 
pector had for years been a pilot on the Columbia 


River, and this fact, together with his buccaneer air, 
made him quite a. character on deck. The pros- 
pector was the kindest and best-natured man that 
ever lived, with a bushy head and beard, and a mild, 
twinkling blue eye. Months of strolling in the mud 
and moisture of Alaska soil had taught him to roll 
his trousers well up at the heel, and he continued 
that cautious habit after he came on board, often 
pacing the dry and spotless decks of the Ida/io with 
his checked trousers rolled halfway to his knees, and 
the gay facings of red leather streaking his nether 
limbs like the insignia of the knightly order of the 
garter Confidentially he said to the mate one day, 
" Did you notice the terrible cold I had when I came 
up with you ? Well, it was all because my wife made 

me wear that white shirt." The sincerity and 

earnestness with which he said this sent his accidental 
listeners off convulsed, and the prospector's latest 
remarks passed current in the absence of daily papers 
and humorous columns. 

Not all of the " salmon prospectors " are as worthy 
and reliable as this shipmate, and in their solitary 
quests they have time to gather and manufacture 
some fish stories that leave all the Frazer River yarns 
far behind. At every place that we touched we were 
shown or told about "the biggest liar in Alaska." 
These great prevaricators and embroiderers of the 
truth were not always in the salmon business, and 
quite as often were searching for coal or the precious 
metals. One pretty bay was famous as the residence 
of such a man, who had beguiled capitalists below 
into letting him sink ^10,000 in a fishery. When the 
ship anchored off his lodge in the wilderness early 


one rainy morning, a hirsute man on shore ran down 
the beach, and, making a trumpet of his hands, con- 
versed with the officers on deck. He had sent word 
previously that he had eighty barrels of salmon ready 
for shipment, but when the inquisitive men from the 
steamer went off to his packing house, not more than 
four hundred salmon lay pickling in the vats, with 
not a barrel ready. This Mulberry Sellers followed 
them back to the small boats, talking volubly all the 
way, and the last that we saw, as the anchor chains 
rattled in and the ship moved off, was the menda- 
cious fisherman standing in the rain, and talking 
through his hand trumpet. *' Captain ! can't you 
wait a while } " was the farewell plea that we heard 
wafting over the water, and all of that afternoon in 
the cabin, while the rain pelted overhead, we were 
entertained with anecdotes of this same celebrity and 
other champion prevaricators of the Territory. 

When we left Sitka on the Ancon, and went out 
over the rolling main and around Cape Ommaney, 
the first stopping-place was at the north end of the 
Prince of Wales Island, where a narrow winding 
channel, not more than twice the width of the ship's 
beam, leads into the beautiful basin of Red Bay. 

This intricate little place was known to the Rus- 
sian traders long ago, and called Krasnaia Bay, but 
it was only in 1884 that a packing-house was built 
and the shining silver salmon decoyed into seines. 
It is a beautiful little place, hidden away on the 
edge of the great island, and its air must be rest- 
ful to the nerves. The beating of the ship's pad- 
dle-wheels could be heard for miles in such quiet 
land-locked waters, and the steamer's whistle gave 


warning of its presence long before it rounded 
the last bends of the bay. Nevertheless, there were 
no signs of life or excitement about the fishery, and 
the two men in sight and at work on the beach did 
not even turn their heads to look at the large ocean 
steamer bearing down towards them. No freight 
seemed ready, neither boats nor canoes put out, and 
the passengers longed to be listeners when the cap- 
tain and purser went ashore in the first gig and held 
parley with the easy-going fishermen on the beach. 
When we followed in the next boats the spicy part of 
the interview was over, and we simply found that 
Red Bay was the most awful smelling place in Alaska, 
the beach a dirty quagmire covered with kelp and 
heads and tails of salmon, and the Indians a hard and 
fierce-looking set. The captain had only the pleasure 
of the scenery and the excitement of some skilful 
pilot practice for going in there, as the lone fisher- 
men had no salmon ready to ship after all the re- 
quests for the steamer to call on the July trip. 

Once out of the tortuous channel and along the 
shore some miles, we anchored at the mouth of 
Salmon Creek, where a lighter lay ready loaded at 
the packing-house, and three hundred and twenty-five 
barrels of salted salmon were towed out to the ship 
and put on board as the result of the first catch of 
the first year of this new fishery. There was an 
energetic proprietor running that establishment, and 
he welcomed the boat-load of visitors on shore and led 
them over a half-acre of shavings into the side door 
of the packing-house. A prying man of the party 
spied a great string of salmon trout on the floor and 
raised hysterical shrieks. " Oh ! that 's nothing," said 


the proprietor coolly, "a little mess that I caught for 
the captain of the ship. The creek is full of them 
out here. This Injun will get you some lines." A 
veritable war-whoop followed the announcement, and 
the anglers broke into a war-dance, circling at all 
hands round, doing the pigeon-wings and chains in 
such a frenzied manner that the astonished Indians 
crept up on the barrels and sat gaping and trembling 
in their blankets at the sight of their uncivilized 
white brethren. 

The Indians brought the fish lines, with common 
hooks and small stones tied on for sinkers, and the 
anglers were rowed out in an old scow and anchored 
not fifty feet from the front of the packing-house. 
It was not artistic fishing with fancy flies, and anglers 
with patent reels and nets would have looked scorn 
at the little group steadily pulling in all the hungry 
trout that snapped at the bits of salmon or salmon 
eggs hung out to them. An old Indian and a small 
boy came paddling around in a leaky canoe, and were 
pressed into service to cut bait for the busy fisher- 
men. As the trout flopped into the scow faster than 
one a minute, wild shouts rent the air, and the 
Siwash adjutants joined in the yells that would have 
frightened off anything else in scales but these 
untutored Alaska trout. The flapping fish splashed 
and spoiled the clothes of the fishermen, but they 
never heeded that, and a tally-keeper was installed 
on the flour bags and barrels at the end of the scow. 
The excitement was communicated to the idlers who 
had stayed on the ship, and soon a second boat put 
out for the fishing ground, full of wild-eyed anglers 
anxious to join in the carnival. They anchored near 


the scow, and their efforts were received with shouts 
of derision as they began pulling in devil-fish, toad- 
fish, sculpin, skate, and marine curios enough to stock 
a museum, before a single trout was hooked. The In- 
dians came down and sat in solemn rows on the logs 
on shore to watch the crazy white fishermen, and they 
made picturesque groups that were repeated in the 
glassy mirror of water before them. One old fellow in 
a red blanket made a fine point of color against the 
thick golden-green wall of spruce-trees on the shore, 
and children and dogs gave a characteristic fringe to 
all the groups. When the last lighter put out for the 
ship the lines were wound up, and the tally-keeper on 
on the flour bags read the record written on the barrel 
tops. The two men, one small boy, and the brave 
creature in six-button gloves who baited and tended 
her own hook, caught altogether one hundred and ten 
trout in the hour and a quarter at anchor in the old 
scow. The weight was sixty pounds, and the fisher- 
men were wild with glee. The one fair angler and 
the tally-keeper having mopped the slimy boat and 
the pile of fish with their dresses, and then seated 
thefnselves on flour bags, had full view of the fishing 
scene photographed on every breadth of their gowns. 
" What shall I do with my dress } " asked one of 
them when she reached the calm and well-dressed 
company on deck, and a cheerful woman said briskly : 
" I guess you 'd better fry it, now that it is dipped in 

Sailing southward through Clarence Straits, a trader 
long resident in the country told us of many Indian 
superstitions, among others repeating that of their 
belief that the aurora flames are the shadows of the 


spirits of dead warriors dancing in the sky, and that 
a great display of northern lights portends a war be- 
tween the tribes. 

The folders of the Pacific Coast Steamship Com- 
pany head the notice of the Alaska route with the 
inspiring line ; " Glaciers, Majestic Mountains, Inland 
Seas, Aurora Borealis, and Nightless Days." All of 
this official promise had come to pass according to 
schedule, with the exception of the aurora, and al- 
though the sky never grew dark, even at midnight, 
we clamored for one display of northern lights. 
The captain told us to wait and take the trip in 
December if we wanted to see the arches of flame 
spanning the sky, and jets of brilliant color flashing 
to the zenith like spray from a fountain. He further 
wrought our fancies to the highest pitch by his 
descriptions of the marvellous auroras that he had 
seen on his mid-winter cruises, and the dazzling 
moonlight effects, when each snow-covered peak and 
range shone and glistened like polished silver in the 
flood of light, and the still waters repeated the 
enchanted scene. Bright as the midnight sky was 
with the lingering twilight of the long day, we had an 
aurora that night as we steamed down along the 
shores of the Prince of Wales' Island. The pilot 
roused the enthusiasts to see the promised display in 
the northern sky, and the arches and rays of pale 
electric light were distinct enough to maintain the 
word of the steamship company. The stars twinkled 
in the ghostly gray vault overhead, and the wan,, 
white light flashed and faded in fitful curves, broad 
rays and waving streamers, that rested like a vast 
halo above the brows of the grand mountains lying 
in black shadows at our left. 


The inexorable law of ship's duty only permits it 
to linger at a harbor for the time necessary to load 
or unload cargo, or for the time specified in the 
mail contract, and in this same hard practical vein it 
makes little difference whether a place is reached by 
night or day. It is light enough these summer 
nights to carry on all outdoor work, and the rare 
visits of the steamer are enough to set all the 
inhabitants astir at any hour, while the constant 
excitement of the trip, and the strange spell of the 
midnight light, makes the tourist indifferent to his 
established customs. Once on the Idaho we were at 
anchor in Naha Bay only from five to six o'clock in 
the morning, but it was barely two o'clock on a clear, 
still morning when the rattling of the Ancons anchor 
chains again broke the silence of Naha Bay. Al- 
though we lay there for five hours, few passengers 
could be roused to watch the sunrise clouds, the 
leaping salmon, and the brilliant green and gold of 
the sun-touched woods and water. In the dew and 
freshness of the early morning, Naha Bay was more 
lovely than ever, and the little black canoes seemed 
to float in emerald air, so clearly green were the 
calm waters under them. 

For another perfect summer afternoon the Ancon 
lay at the wharf in Kasa-an Bay, and, in the mellow, 
Indian summer sunshine, we roamed the beach, buy- 
ing the last remaining baskets, bracelets, pipes, and 
spoons of the Indians, and pulling hard at the 
amateur's oar as we trailed across the bay in small 
boats to watch the fishermen cast and draw the net. 
The huge skeleton wheels on which the nets are 
dried had raised many comments at every fishery, 


but we had never been kicky enough to catch the 
men doing anything but winding the nets on these 
reels to dry. The fishermen had dropped the weight- 
ed net when we reached the cove on the opposite 
shore, and the line of bobbing wooden floats showed 
how this fence in the water was being gradually drawn 
in, and the area limited as it crept toward the beach. 
The sun was hot on the water, and the far away peal 
of the lunch gong, sounding in the stillness of the 
mountain bay, caused us to turn back to the ship 
before all the shining salmon were drawn up and 
thrown into the scows. The fascination of the water 


was too great to resist, and in the warmer sun of the 
afternoon we followed the shores of Baronovich's 
little inlet, rowing close in where the menzie and 
merton spruce formed a dense golden-green wall and 
threw clear shadows and reflections upon the water. 
We dipped into each little shaded inlet, posed jn the 
boat for the amateur's camera to preserve the scene, 
and floated slowly over the wonderland that lay 
beneath the keel. It was with real regret that we 
saw the last barrel of salmon dropping into the hold, 
and, steaming down the beautiful bay in full sunshine, 
had a glimpse of the inlet where the village of Karta 
and its ;foUm poles lies, before we turned into 
Clarence Strait. 




THUS in its commercial mission the steamer 
wandered among the islands, touching at 
infant settlements and trading posts, and anchoring 
before Indian villages with traditions and totem poles 
centuries old. Rounding the southern end of the 
Prince of Wales Island to Dixon Entrance, the fog 
and mist crept upon us as we neared the ocean. It 
was a wet and gloomy afternoon when the Idaho 
anchored in the little American Bay on Dall Island, 
not more than a mile from Howkan, an ancient 
settlement of the Kaigahnee Haidas and a place of 
note in the archipelago. Howkan has more totem 
poles than any other village, and is one of the most 
interesting places on the route; but as Kaigahnee 
Strait before the village is thickly set with reefs, 
and swift currents and strong winds sweep through 
the narrow channel, it is dangerous for vessels to go 
near. The fur traders used always to anchor in the 
little bays on the opposite shore, and to one of them, 
American Bay, the Northwest Trading Company was 
about to move its stores. Only a small clearing had 
been made, and two buildings put up, at the time of 
that first visit, and it looked a very dreary and forlorn 


place, as we picked our way about in the rain, climb- 
ing over logs and sinking in the wet moss. 

After the cargo had been discharged, the captain 
obligingly took the ship over to the nearest safe 
anchorage off the village, and we had a warm 
welcome on shore from the five white residents. For 
two years the missionary's wife and sister had met 
but one white woman, until the boatload of ladies 
went ashore from the Idaho^ and overwhelmed them 
with a superfluity. We all gathered in the trader's 
house and store at first, and these two white residents 
of Howkan were none other than the Russian Count 

Z and his pretty black-haired Countess, a couple 

interesting in themselves and their history, and all 
the more extraordinary in their being found in this 
remote end of the world. The Count is a man of 
fascinating address and appearance, polished manners 
and cultivated tastes, and, being exiled for Nihilistic 
tendencies, he chose Alaska in preference to Siberia, 
and made his way across the friendly chain of islands 
to "the home of the free and the land of the brave." 
He married a charming Russian lady at Sitka, and, 
with the calm of a philosophic mind and the patience 
of a patriotic heart, he waits the time when amnesty or 
anarchy shall permit his return to holy Russia. Ad- 
versity and years in the savage wilderness have not 
robbed these people of their ease and grace of manner, 
and the handsome Count had all the charm and spirit 
that must have distinguished him in the gay world of 
his native capital. The little Countess was unfeign- 
edly glad to see a few fellow creatures, and in the 
dusk of that dreary, wet night welcomed us to her 
simple home, and showed us her treasures, from the 


big blue-eyed baby to a wonderfully painted dance 
blanket. When we expressed curiosity at the latter, 
the pretty Russian seized the great piece of fringed 
and painted deerskin, and, wrapping it about her 
shoulders, threw her head back with fine pose, and 
stood as an animated tableau in the dusk and fire- 
light of her Alaska chalet. "This was a cultus pot- 
latch,'' she said, with a dainty accent, as she explained 
the way it came into her possession, and we all 
laughed at the way the Chinook jargon interprets 
that dilettante word as meaning "worthless." The 
Countess told us a better one about her asking a 
trader what had become of a man who used to live at 
Sitka, and the trader answering her that he was 
*' ailt24sm£- SLVOund here somewhere." This Russian 
family was most interesting to us, and, setting aside 
all traditions of his rank, the Nihilist Count talked 
business with the captain in a most American 
manner, and, but for the inherent accent and air, a 
listener might have taken him for the most practical 
of business men, whose whole life had been spent in 
commercial marts, or as agent for a great trading 

All of these kind people helped to show us about the 
place, and give us bits of local history on the way, 
and from them we learned that the Indian name 
Howkan means a fallen stone, and this village was 
called so on account of a peculiar boulder that lay on 
the beach. Like other places in Alaska, it has several 
names, and several ways of spelling each of them. 
The traders call it oftener Kaigahnee than Howkan, 
although old Kaigahnee, the original village of that 
name, is many miles distant from this place of the 


fallen stone. The missionaries named it " Jackson " 
in honor of the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, the projector 
and manager of Presbyterian missions in Alaska, and 
the Post Office Department recognized it as " Haida 
Mission " when the blanks and cancelling stamps 
were sent out for the small post-office. A request 
was made by the mission people to have the place 
put down as Jackson on the new charts, since issued 
by the Coast Survey, but the commander of the 
surveying steamer opposed it as an act of vandalism, 
and on the maps it still retains the harsh old Indian 
name by which it has been known for centuries. 

The village fronts on two crescent beaches, and a 
long, rocky point running out into the water fairly 
divides it into two villages, so separate are their water 
fronts. A fleet of graceful Haida canoes was drawn 
up on the first and larger beach, all of them carefully 
filled with grass and covered over, and their owners 
joined in receiving the visitors, and accompanied us 
on our sight-seeing tour. The houses at Howkan are 
large and well built, and the village is remarkably 
clean. Some of the chiefs have weatherboarded their 
houses and put in glass windows and hinged doors, 
but before or beside nearly every house rises the tall, 
ancestral totem poles that constitute the glory of the 

Skolka, one of the great chiefs, has a large house 
guarded by two totem poles, and at his offer the 
house had been occupied for two years as a school- 
room by the mission teacher. A flagstaff and a 
skeleton bell-tower were added to the exterior decora- 
tions of his house in consequence, and Skolka was 
the envy of all the Kaigahnees. Skolka is a wise and 


liberal chieftain, and a member of the Eagle family. 
Effigies of that totemic bird surmount the poles 
before his house, and on one pole appears the whis- 
kered face of a white man, capped by an eagle, and 
finished with the images of two children wearing the 
steeple-crowned mandarin hats of the Tyees. Skolka 
explains these images as telling the story of one of his 
ancestors, who was a famous woman of the Eagle clan. 
She went out for salmon eggs one day, and when she 


drew up her canoe on the beach upon her return, she 
had several baskets filled. Not seeing her two little 
children, she called to them, but they ran and hid. 
Later she called them again, and they answered her 
from the woods with the voices of crows. Her worst 
fears were realized when she found that a white man, 
"a Boston man," had carried them off in a ship. 
These two orphans never returned to their people. 
Such is the simple kidnapping story that has been 
handed down in Skolka's family for generations, and 



this whiskered face on the toUm pole is said to be 
almost the only instance of a Boston man attaining 
immortality in these picture-writings. 

"Mr. John" is another fine-looking chief, who 
dresses in civilized style, and is rather proud of his 
advanced ways of living and thinking. He lives in a 


large house near Skolka, and has a grand old toUm 
pole before his doorway. In his queer idiom he 
tells one, " I am a Crow, but my wife is a Whale ; " 
and as Mrs. John is of generous build, there is lurk- 
ing sarcasm in his statement. 

The deceased chief, Mr. Jim, left some fine tofem 
poles behind him, and on the second beach of the 
village there is a semicircle of ancient moss-grown 
foUm poles standing guard over ruined and deserted 
houses. The mosses, the lichens, and the vines cling 
tenderly to these strange old monuments of the 
people, and, in the crevices of the carvings, grasses. 


ferns, and even young trees have taken root and 
thrive. Back in the dense undergrowth rise the 
mortuary poles, the carved totems and emblems that 
mark the graves of dead and gone Haidas. Skolka's 
father and uncles have fine images over their burial 
boxes, and from the head of the Eagle on one of 
these mortuary columns, a small fir-tree, taking root, 
has grown to a height of eight or ten feet. In this 
burying ground there are large boxes filled with the 
bones and ashes of those said to have died when the 
great epidemics raged among the islands a half cen- 
tury ago. 

We found the Howkan ship-yard under a large 
shed, and the canoe builder showed us two cedar 
canoes that were nearly completed. The high-beaked 
Haida canoes are slender and graceful as Venetian 
gondolas, and the small, light canoes that they use in 
hunting sea otter are marvels of boat-building. The 
shapely skiffs that the boat builder showed us had 
been hewn from single logs of red cedar, and were 
ready to be braced and steamed into their graceful 
curving lines. Our admiration of the work caused 
him to offer a light, otter-hunter's canoe for fifty 
dollars, but not one of the company made a purchase. 
In one house we found a paralyzed man lying on a 
couch in the middle of the one great room, and the 
relatives gathered about him soon brought out their 
treasures and offered them for sale. 

Like all of their tribe, these Kaigahnee Haidas are 
an intelligent and superior people, skilled in the arts 
of war and the crafts of peace, and their carvers 
have wrought matchless totem poles, canoes, bowls, 
spoons, halibut clubs and hooks, from time imme- 



morial. These carvings show finer work and better 
ideas than the art relics of the other tribes, and in 
silver work they quite surpass the rest of the 
Thlinkets ; although it is now claimed that they are 
not Thlinkets, differing from them materially in their 
language and traditions, while they have the same 
totemic system, familiar spirits, and customs. The 


Haida women were all adorned with beautifully made 
bracelets, and the superiority of Haida workmanship 
and designs is proven by the way that the Indians, even 
at Sitka, boast of their bracelets being Haida work. 
Kenowin is the chief silversmith, and his daughter wore 
a pair of broad gold bracelets carved with the Eagle 
totem. Gold is very rarely worn by the Indians, and 
they hardly seem to value the yellow metal, although 
some Haida silversmiths have worked in jewellers' 


stores in Victoria successfully, and learned the pro- 
cesses of acid treatments. The Haida rules of art, by 
which they conventionalize any animal they depict, are 
very exact, and on the large bracelet, shown in a pre- 
vious illustration, the cinnamon bears represented as 
advancing in profile are joined in one full, grinning 
face which is recognized as the Haida crest. Their 
totemic Eagle has now degenerated into a base copy 
of the bird on American coins, but otherwise their 
art rules and traditions are unperverted. The key 
and original idea in many of their designs is the 
strange marking like a peacock's eye found on the 
back of the skate fish or sculpin, and besides carving 
it on all their solid belongings, they tattoo the 
emblem on their bodies. 

These Kaigahnees have a curious tradition, related 
to us by the resident teacher, that quite resembles 
the biblical story of the ark and the flood. One old 
Indian now claims to have the bark rope which held 
the anchor of the big canoe when it rested on the 
high mountain back of Howkan. They have also a 
story resembling that of Lot's wife, only Sodom and 
Gomorrah were on Forrester Island, and a brother 
and sister, fleeing from a pestilence, were turned to 
stone, because the woman looked back while crossing 
the river. Their houses were petrified as well, and 
the petrified bodies of the disobedient ones still stand 
in the river to tell the tale. 

When Wiggin's storms were being promised to the 
whole North American continent, in March, 1882, a 
white man at Kasa-an Bay read the prophecies, and 
explained them to the Indians. The warning spread 
rapidly from island to island, and at Howkan the 


natives began moving their things to the high ground, 
and were carrying up water and provisions for one 
whole afternoon. They believed that the promised 
tidal wave was coming, and at the time set for the 
storm, began to say, "Victoria all gone." There was 
a heavy storm outside that March night, and the 
agent of the trading company, returning from the 
Klinquan fishery in a whale-boat, was drowned by a 
wave upsetting the boat as he let go the tiller to furl 
the sail. 

It was at Port Bazan, across Dall Island, that one of 
the Kaigahnees, whom we saw, found the remains of 
Paymaster Walker, who was lost with the steamer 
George S. WrigJity in February, 1873. The loss of 
the Wright was one of the tragedies of the sea, and 
is still a current topic in Alaska. The steamer left 
Sitka on its return trip to Portland with several army 
officers and their families and residents on board. 
It was last seen at Cordova Bay, on the south end of 
Prince of Wales Island, and, in the face of warnings, 
the captain put out to sea in a heavy storm, — as he 
was hurrying to Portland for his wedding. It is sup- 
posed that the ship foundered, or struck a rock in 
Queen Charlotte Sound. The most terrible anxiety 
prevailed as week after week went by, with no tidings 
of the Wright^ and the feeling was intensified when 
the rumor was started that it had been wrecked near 
a village of Kuergefath Indians, and that the sur- 
vivors had been tortured and put to death. Two 
years after the disappearance of the Wright^ the body 
of Major Walker was found in Port Bazan, recogni- 
zable only by fragments of his uniform, that had 
been held to him by a life-preserver. Other remains 


and fragments of the wreck were then found in the 
recesses of the ocean shores of the island, and the 
mystery of the Wright was at last solved. 

Further up this coast, beyond the Klawock can- 
nery, the mission has a branch station and a saw- 
mill, and, in time, will establish a school in this 
Shakan Island. 

On my second visit to Kaigahnee Straits, the An- 
coji dropped anchor at two o'clock in the morning, 
and it was up and off again before five o'clock. A 
few enthusiasts did manage to row over to Howkan 
and back, but the rest of us were confented with one 
sleepy glance at the little settlement that, in a year's 
time, had surrounded the Northwest Trading Com- 
pany's stores in American Bay. It was with great 
regret that we woke again to find the ship sailing 
over the most placid of waters, as it coursed up 
Dixon Entrance. It touched at Cape Fox, where we 
enjoyed the last of our delights and experiences on 
Alaska shores, stopped in a twilight rain at Tongass, 
and then slipped across the boundary line at night, 
and gave us all over again those enchanting days 
along the British Columbia coast. 




ON occasional trips the steamer anchors off Metla- 
katlah, the model mission-station of the north- 
west coast, and an Arcadian village of civilized 
Indians, built round a bay on the Chimsyan Penin- 
sula, in British Columbia. Metlakatlah is just below 
the Alaska boundary line, and but a little way south 
of Fort Simpson, the chief Hudson Bay Company 
trading post of the region, where the great canoe 
market, and the feasts and dances of the Indians, 
enliven that centre of trade each fall. 

It was a rainy morning when the Idaho anchored 
off Metlakatlah, and the small boats took us through 
the drizzle and across a gentle ground-swell to the 
landing wharf at the missionary village. We were 
met there by Mr. Duncan, one of the noblest men 
that ever entered the mission field. He left mer- 
cantile life to take up this work, and was sent out by 
the English Church Missionary Society in 1857. He 
spent the first four years in working among the 
Indians at Fort Simpson, but the evils and tempta- 
tions surrounding such a place quite offset his efforts, 
and he decided to go off by himself and gather the 
Indians about him at some place where they would be 


safe from other influences. Fifty Chimsyans started 
with him to found the village of Metlakatlah, and, in 
the twenty-odd years, they have built up a model 
town that they have reason to be proud of. When 
they first went there, a strip of the land was marked 
off for church purposes, and the rest of it divided 
among the Indians. It was considered a doubtful 
experiment at first, but Mr. Duncan put his whole 
heart and soul into the enterprise, and every Indian 
who went with him signed a temperance pledge, 
agreed to give up their medicine-men as advisers in 
sickness, and to do no work on the Sabbath. His 
faith has been proven in the results attained, and the 
self-respecting, self-supporting community at Metla- 
katlah proves that the Indian can be civilized as well 
as educated in one generation, if the right man and 
the right means are employed. 

At the end of twenty-three years there is a well- 
laid-out village, with two-story houses, sidewalks, 
and street lamps. A large Gothic church has been 
built, with a comfortable rectory adjoining, and around 
the village-green a school-house, a public hall, and a 
store are prominent buildings. All of these struc- 
tures have been built by the Indians, and, with their 
own saw-mill and planing-mill, they have turned out 
the lumber and woodwork required for the public 
buildings and their own houses. Mr. Duncan has 
taught them all these necessary arts, working with 
them himself, and dividing the profits of their labors 
among the Indians. Under his management the 
Indians have established their cannery and store as a 
joint-stock company, and these once savage islanders 
understand the scheme, and draw their dividends as 


gravely as if their ancestors had always done so be- 
fore them. The cannery is a model of neatness, the 
salmon being headed and cleaned on an anchored 
boat far off shore, and brought to the cannery all 
ready to be cut and fitted into tins. Everything is 
done by the Indians themselves, from making the 
cans to filling, soldering, heating, varnishing, label- 
ing, and packing, and the Metlakatlah salmon bring 
the highest price in the London market, and each 
year handsome dividends are paid to the islanders. 
An average of six thousand cases are shipped every 
year, and each visitor that morning bought a can of 
the Skeena River salmon to carry off as a souvenir of 

The women have been taught to spin and weave 
the fleece of the mountain goat into heavy cloths, 
shawls, and blankets. Boots, shoes, ropes, and leather 
are also made at Metlakatlah, and there is a good 
carpenter shop in the town. A telephone connects 
the village store with the saw-mill a few miles dis- 
tant, and the Indians ring up the men at the other 
end of the wire, and " hello " to their brother Chim- 
syans in the most matter-of-fact manner. The steam- 
launch belonging to the cannery is engineered by 
one of their number, and the village compares favor- 
ably with any of the small saw-mill settlements of 
whites on Puget Sound. 

While we wandered about the village under the 
escort of Mr. Duncan and his faithful David, the 
members of the brass band gathered themselves to- 
gether and played " Marching Through Georgia," 
" Yankee Doodle," and other of our national anthems 
in honor of the American visitors. Twenty stal- 


wart Indians comprise the full band, and, although 
nearly half of the musicians were off salmon fishing, 
those left did some most excellent playing on horn, 
cornet, and trombone, and sent farewell strains over 
the water as we got into the small boats and were 
pulled away to the ship. The Indians keep a visit- 
ors' house at the landing for the entertainment of 
friends in the adjoining tribes, and on the night pre- 
ceding our arrival there had been a grand banquet 
and ball in honor of some canoe-loads of Haidas, who 
had come to pass a few days at these guest-houses of 
Metlakatlah. We found the Haidas looking much 
dilapidated on the morning after the ball, and among 
the picturesque groups sitting about the great square 
fireplace there was the most beautiful Indian maiden 
seen on the coast. The Haida beauty had a warm, 
yellow skin, with a damask bloom on her cheeks, 
a pair of large, soft, black eyes, and dazzling teeth. 
She gave a shy smile, and dropped her eyes before 
the admiring gaze and the exclamations of the party, 
and the susceptible young men from the ship inime- 
diately offered to stop off and stay with Mr. Duncan 
for a while. The Haidas had many curious things 
with them, and evinced a proper desire to make 
trade. One woman wore a pair of wide, gold brace- 
lets, engraved with the totemic eagle and the Haida 
crest, and, putting her price at eighty dollars, sat 
stoical and silent through all the offers of smaller 
sums. They had fine silver bracelets, horn spoons, 
and carved trifles of copper and wood with them, but 
the desirable things were some miniature totem poles 
carved out of black slate stone, and inlaid with pieces 
of abalone shell to represent green and glistening 


eyes for each heraldic monster. These little tote^n 
poles are made of a soft slate found near Skidegate 
on the Queen Charlotte Islands. When first quar- 
ried it is very soft and easily worked, but hardens in 
a short time, and will crack if exposed to the sun or 
heat. It takes a fine polish, and for the small slate 
columns, fourteen and eighteen inches high, the In- 
dians asked seven and ten dollars. We afterwards 
saw dozens and scores of these slate totems at the 
curio stores in Victoria, and though there seemed to 
be a sufficient supply of them for all the tourists of a 
season, the prices ranged from twenty to eighty 
dollars, and for plaques and boxes of carved slate 
the demand was proportionately higher. 

It was with real regret that we parted with Mr. 
Duncan at the wharf, and it was not until we were 
well over the water that we learned of the serpent or 
the skeleton in this paradise. Though Metlakatlah 
might rightly be considered Mr. Duncan's own par- 
ticular domain, and the Indians have proved their 
appreciation of his unselfish labors by a love and 
devotion rare in such races, his plainest rights have 
been invaded and trouble brewed among his people. 
Two years ago a bishop was appointed for the dio- 
cese, which includes Fort Simpson, Metlakatlah, and 
a few other missions. Fort Simpson is the older 
and larger mission settlement, and the higher officers 
of the church have always resided there, but Bishop 
Ridley, disapproving of Mr. Duncan's Low Church 
principles, went to Metlakatlah and took possession 
as a superior officer. Mr. Duncan moved from the 
rectory, and the bishop took charge of the church 
services. In countless ways a spirit of antagonism 


was raised that almost threatened a war at one time. 
The bishop informed the Indians that their store 
and warehouse was situated on ground belonging to 
the church. Instead of compromising, or leaving it 
there under his jurisdiction, the matter-of-fact Met- 
lakatlans went in a body, pulled down the building, 
and set it up outside the prescribed limits. In en- 
deavoring to prevent this, the bishop was roughly 
handled, and as he appreciated the hostile spirit of 
the greatest part of the community he sent to Vic- 
toria, asking the protection of a British man-of-war. 
The whole stay of the bishop has been marked by 
trouble and turbulence, and these scandalous distur- 
bances in a Christian community cannot fail to have 
an influence for evil, and undo some of the good 
work that has been done there. Mr. Duncan made 
no reference to his troubles during the morning that 
we spent at Metlakatlah, and his desire that we 
should see and know what his followers were capable 
of, and understand what they had accomplished for 
themselves, gave us to infer that everything was 
peace and happiness in the colony. One hears noth- 
ing but praise of Mr. Duncan up and down the coast, 
and can understand the strong partisanship he in- 
spires among even the roughest people. His face 
alone is a passport for piety, goodness, and benevo- 
lence anywhere, and his honest blue eyes, his kindly 
smile, and cheery manner go straight to the heart of 
the most savage Indian. His dusky parishioners 
worship him, as he well deserves, and in his twenty- 
seven years among them they have only the un- 
broken record of his kindness, his devotion, his 
unselfish and honorable treatment of them. He 


found them drunken savages, and he has made them 
civilized men and Christians. He has taught them 
trades, and there has seemed to be no hmit to this 
extraordinary man's abilities. When his hair had 
whitened in this noble, unselfish work, and the fruits 
of his labor had become apparent, nothing could have 
been more cruel and unjust than to undo his work, 
scatter dissension among his people, and make Metla- 
katlah a reproach instead of an honor to the society 
which has sanctioned such a wrong. An actual crime 
has been committed in the name of Religion, by this 
persistent attempt to destroy the peace and pros- 
perity of Metlakatlah and drive away the man who 
founded and made that village what it was. British 
Columbia is long and broad, and there are a hundred 
places where others can begin as Mr. Duncan began, 
and where the bishop can do good by his presence. 
If it was Low Church doctrines that made the Metla- 
katlah people what they were a few years since, all 
other teachings should be given up at mission sta- 
tions. Discord, enmity, and sorrow have succeeded 
the introduction of ritualism at Metlakatlah, and 
though it cannot fairly be said to be the inevitable 
result of such teachings, it would afford an interest- 
ing comparison if the Ritualists would go off by 
themselves and establish a second Metlakatlah as a 

A later expression of opinion on the troubles of 
Metlakatlah appears in the last annual report (1884) 
to the Dominion Government, by Colonel Powell, 
Superintendent of Indians in British Columbia. He 
writes as follows : — 

*' I am exceedingly sorry to state that serious trou- 


ble and the most unhappy religious rancor still exists 
at Metlakatlah, dividing the Indians, and causing infi- 
nite damage to Christianity in adjacent localities, 
where sides are taken with one or other of the con- 
tending parties. The retirement of either or both 
would seem the only true solution of the difficulties, 
and if the latter alternative is not desirable, and as 
fully nine tenths of the people are unanimous and 
determined in their support of Mr. Duncan, the with- 
drawal of the agents of the society to more congenial 
headquarters would, I think, be greatly in the inter- 
ests of all concerned. Since the schism has occurred, 
the larger following of Mr. Duncan have resolved 
themselves into an independent society, with that 
gentleman as their guide and leader. The forms of 
the Anglican Church have been discarded, and they 
have designated themselves 'The Christian Church 
of Metlakatlah,' each member of which subscribes to 
a declaration pledging themselves to exclusively fol- 
low the teachings of the Bible as the rule of faith, 
and that they will, to the utmost of their power, pre- 
vent any divisions among the villagers, and do their 
utmost to promote the spiritual and temporal pros- 
perity of the community. This association includes 
all the young and active residents of the village, 
hence they are all enthusiastic and determined in 
their desire for success. In addition to the large 
store, which, I was told, belonged to the Indians, 
and was a co-operative arrangement, Mr. Duncan has 
devoted his spare energies to the establishment of a 
salmon cannery, which, he informed me, was placed 
upon the same footing. This has afforded employ- 
ment for a great majority of the inhabitants, and 


has kept them so busy for the last few months that 
happily they have had no time to give to contention. 
The secret of Mr. Duncan's great popularity with the 
Indians at Metlakatlah is his desire and fondness 
for inaugurating industries, which, after all, is the 
strongest bond that can be made to unite these people. 
The present difficulties, however, at Metlakatlah can- 
not continue much longer without culminating in 
serious consequences, means to avert which, of what- 
ever nature they may be, should be promptly and 
effectually enforced." 




IIFE on the waveless arms of the ocean has a 
-^ great fascination for one on these Alaska trips, 
and crowded with novelty, incidents, and surprises as 
each day is, the cruise seems all too short when the 
end approaches. One dreads to get to land again and 
end the easy, idle wandering through the long archi- 
pelago. A voyage is but one protracted marine 
picnic and an unbroken succession of memorable 
days. Where in all the list of them to place the red 
letter or the white stone puzzles one. The passengers 
beg the captain to reverse the engines, or boldly turn 
back and keep up the cruise until the autumn gales 
make us willing to return to the region of earthly 
cares and responsibilities, daily mails and telegraph 
wires. The long, nightless days never lose their spell, 
and in retrospect the wonders of the northland appear 
the greater. The weeks of continuous travel over 
deep, placid waters in the midst of magnificent 
scenery might be a journey of exploration on a new 
continent, so different is it from anything else in 
American travel. Seldom is anything but an Indian 
canoe met, for days no signs of a settlement are seen 
along the quiet fiords, and, making nocturnal visits to 


small fisheries, only the unbroken wilderness is in 
sight during waking hours. The anchoring in strange 
places, the going to and fro in small boats, the queer 
people, the strange life, the peculiar fascination of the 
frontier, and the novelty of the whole thing, affect 
one strongly. Each arm of the sea and the unknown, 
unexplored wilderness that lies back of every mile of 
shore continually tempt the imagination. 

Along these winding channels in " the sea of moun- 
tains," only the rushing tides ever stir the surface of 
the waters where the surveyor's line drops one hun- 
dred, two hundred, and four hundred fathoms without 
finding bottom, and the navigator casts his lead for 
miles without finding anchorage. All piloting is by 
sight, and when clouds, fogs, or the long winter nights 
of inky darkness obscure the landmarks, the fog 
whistle is kept going according to regulation, and the 
ship's course determined by the echoes flung back 
from the hidden mountains. Such feats in time of 
fog gave zest to ship life, and Captain Carroll, who 
performed them, was accused of being the original of 
Mark Twain's man, who made a collection of echoes. 
At every place in Alaska he had a particular echo that 
he brought out with the cannon's salute. At Fort 
Wrangell the hills repeated the shot five times ; and 
at Juneau it came back seven times, before dying 
away in a long roll. At Sitka there was the din of a 
naval battle when the cannon was fired point blank 
at Mt. Verstovaia, and up among the glaciers, the 
echoes drowned the thunder of the falling ice. 

Captain Carroll, for so many years in command of 
the mail steamer on this Alaska route, is a genius in 
his way, and a character, a typical sea captain, a fine 


navigator, and a bold and daring commander, whose 
skill and experience have carried his ships through 
the thousand dangers of the Alaska coast. He is 
a strict disciplinarian, whose authority is supreme, 
and the etiquette of the bridge and quarter-deck is 
severely maintained. When he leaves the deck and 
lays aside his official countenance, the children play 
and tumble over him and cling to him, and he is a 
merciless joker with the elders. He is possessed of 
a fund of stories and adventures that would make 
the fortune of a wit or raconteur on shore, and their 
momentary piquancy, as of salt water and stiff winds, 
makes it impossible for one to repeat them well. 
His fish stories are unequalled, and the despair of 
the most accomplished anglers. He leaves nothing 
undone to promote the pleasure and comfort of his 
passengers, who are in a sense his guests during the 
three or four weeks of a summer pleasure trip, and 
gold watches and several sets of resolutions have 
expressed appreciation of his courtesy and attentions 
to travellers. He is deeply interested in the wel- 
fare of the region that he has seen slowly awakening 
to the march of progress, and, being so identified 
with these early days and the development of the 
territory, is destined to live as an historic figure in 
Alaskan annals. 

The pilot, Captain George, is everyone's friend, 
and his patience and good nature have to stand the 
strain of a steady questioning and cross-examination 
from the beginning to the end of a cruise. He is 
appealed to for all the heights, depths, distances, and 
names along the route ; and finally, when everyone 
has bought a large Hydrographic Office chart of 


Alaska, Captain George is asked to mark out the ship's 
course through the maze of island channels. He has 
been pilot for twenty years on the northwest coast, 
and Mr. Seward and many others who saw the country 
under his guidance speak of him as a Russian. As 
his early home in "the States" was at Oshkosh, one 
can understand how that foreign-sounding name mis- 
led people. He, as well as all of the ship's officers, 
keeps a log of each cruise, and Captain George has 
furnished many notes and notices for the Coast Sur- 
vey publications, and helps the memory of the tourists, 
who keep some of the most remarkable journals and 
diaries for the first few days of the cruise. 

A character in the lower rank on one trip was the 
captain's boy, " John," a faithful henchman and valet, 
whose devotion and attachment to his master were 
quite wonderful. John is a Swede by birth, and his 
pale-blue eyes, fair complexion, and light hair were 
offset by a continuous array of spotlessly white jackets 
and ties. In the most Northern latitudes John would 
trip about the deck with his spry and jaunty tread, 
clad in these snowy habiliments of the tropics, and 
after a ramble among Indian lodges on shore, John 
would appear to our enraptured eyes as the very 
apotheosis of cleanliness and starchy perfection. At 
luncheon one day John set two pies before the cap- 
tain, and announcing them as " mince and apple," 
withdrew deferentially behind his master's chair. 
" Which is the apple pie, John ? " asked the captain, 
as he held a knife suspended over a disk of golden 
crust. "The starboard pie, sir," said John respect- 
fully, and with a seriousness that robbed the thing 
of any intention. 


Two deck passengers that enlivened the return trip 
of the Idaho were small black bear cubs four or five 
months old. There was always high revel on the 
hurricane deck during the " dog watches " when the 
bears were fed, and cakes and lumps of sugar from 
the cabin table enticed them to play pranks. The 
treacherous young bruin bought at Chilkat grew fat 
on the voyage, and was twice the size of a little 
stunted cub bought of a trader at Fort Wrangell. The 
Chilkat cub climbed the rigging like a born sailor after 
a fortnight's training, but much teasing made him 
surly and suspicious, and he would run for the rat- 
lines at sight of a man. For the ladies, who fed them 
on sugar and salmon berries, both bears showed a great 
fondness, and the two clumsy pets would trot around 
the deck after them as tamely as kittens, and stand 
up and beg for sugar plainly. The little Fort Wrangell 
bear would crawl up on a bench beside one, and make 
plaintive groans until it was petted, and it would sun 
itself contentedly there for hours. They were amiable 
playfellows together, but they were puzzled and be- 
witched by the agile little toy-terrier "Toots," who 
lived on an afghan in the captain's cabin. That aris- 
tocratic little mite of a dog delighted to caper around 
and bewilder the bears with his quick motions, and it 
was a funny by-play to watch these young animals to- 
gether. One evening in the Gulf of Georgia, we lin- 
gered on deck to watch a stormy, crimson sunset, and 
after that, when the moon rose like a fiery ball from 
the water, and faded to pale gold and silver in the 
zenith,, the company grew musical and sang in en- 
thusiastic chorus all the good old sea songs. With 
the first notes of the music the bears came pattering 


out, and. circling gravely before the singers, lay down, 
folded their forepaws before them in the most human 
attitude and listened attentively to " Nancy Lee " and 
"John Brown." Two young fawns, caught as they 
were swimming the channel near Fort Wrangell one 
morning, were quartered on the lower deck. In 
captivity their soft black eyes were sadly pathetic, 
and they were visited daily and fed on all the dainties 
for deer that could be gathered on shore. Foxes, 
strange birds, Esquimaux dogs, and other pets have 
been passengers on the return trips of the steamer, 
and the officers of the ship have done their share in 
presenting animals to different city gardens and parks. 

As the end of Vancouver Island drew near, the 
scenery of the British Columbia coast gained in 
beauty, with the prospect of so soon losing our wild 
surroundings. After leaving Metlakatlah there was 
not a sign of civilization for two days, and in spite of 
Buff on and Henry James, Jr., we grew the more 
enthusiastic over the " brute nature " that so offends 
those worldlings. The days were clear, but one night 
the fog promised to be so dense that the ship made 
an outside run from the Milbank to Queen Charlotte 
Sound, over waters so still that none suspected that 
we had left the narrow inside channels. 

We never met the oulikon, or " candle fish " of this 
coast, except as we saw the piscatorial torch at 
grocers' stores in Victoria ; but we sailed for four 
hours through a school of herring one afternoon, as 
we neared the Vancouver shore. Sharks were fol- 
lowing them by dozens, and sea-gulls flew overhead, 
ready to swoop upon the unlucky herring that jumped 
to the enemy in the air to escape the one in the water. 


Both times on the return voyage we slipped through 
Seymour Narrows without knowing it, so smoothly was 
the water boiling at the flood tide, and so absorbed 
were we once in the soft poetic sunset that finally left 
a glowing wall of orange in the west, against which the 
ragged forest line of the summits and the mountain 
masses were as if carved in jet. Looking upwards, 
even the masts and spars were sharply silhouetted 
against the glorious amber zenith, and it was hours 
before it faded to the pure violet sky of such mid- 
summer nights. 

Besides Mt. St. Elias, the Alaska passengers always 
beg for a view of Bute Inlet, which opens from the 
network of channels there at the head of the Gulf of 
Georgia, and runs far into the heart of the mountain 
range that borders the mainland shore. We hung 
over the captain's charts of the inlet with the great- 
est interest, and, with his explanations, imagination 
could picture that grand fiord, not a quarter of a mile 
in width, and with vertical mountain walls that rise 
from four thousand feet at the entrance, to eight 
thousand feet above the water's level at the head of 
the inlet. Soundings of four hundred fathoms are 
marked on the chart, and with cascades and glaciers 
pouring into the chasm, little is left for a scenic artist 
to supply. A trail was once cleared from the head of 
the inlet to the Cariboo mining district on the Frazer 
river, and surveys were made looking to a terminus of 
the Canadian Pacific Railroad, but both have been 
abandoned, and Bute Inlet is not accessible by any 
established line of boats. Lord Dufferin and the 
Marquis of Lome visited it on British men-of-war, and 
carried its fame to England, by extolling its scenery 


as the grandest on any coast. When Lord Dufferin 
had gone further up and into Alaska, he made his 
prophecy that this northwest coast, with its long 
stretch of protected waters, would in time become one 
of the favorite yachting grounds of the world. 

If the beautiful Gulf of Georgia is wonderland and 
dreamland by day, it is often fairyland by night, and 
there was an appropriate finale to the last cruise, when 
the captain came down the deck at midnight and 
rapped up the passengers. " Wake up ! The whole 
sea is on fire " said the commander. We roused and 
flung open stateroom doors and windows to see the 
water shining like a sheet of liquid silver for miles on 
every side. The water around us was thickly starred 
with phosphorescence, and at a short distance, the 
million points of lights mingled in a solid stretch of 
miles of pale, unearthly flame. It lighted the sky 
with a strange reflection, and the shores, which there, 
off Cape Lazro, are twenty miles away, seemed near 
at hand in the clear, ghostly light. A broad pathway 
of pale-green, luminous water trailed after us, and the 
paddle-wheels threw off dazzling cascades. Under 
the bows the foaming spray washed high on the black 
hull, and cast long lines of unearthly, greenish white 
flame, that illuminated the row of faces hanging over 
the guards as sharply as calcium rays. A bucket 
was lowered and filled with the water, and the marvel 
of the shining sea was repeated in miniature on deck, 
each time the water was stirred. It was a most 
wonderful display, and many, who had seen this glory 
of the seas in the tropics, declared that they had 
never seen phosphorescent waters more brilliant than 
those of the Gulf of Georgia. 


With such an illumination and marine fireworks we 
brought the last cruise virtually to an end, and another 
morning found the ship tied to the same coal wharf 
in Departure Bay. The pleasure travellers laid their 
plans for other trips, and in a few days the company 
was scattered. 

Those who went up the Frazer River to its canons 
said later : " The best of the Frazer only equals 
Grenville Channel, and the dust and heat are intol- 
erable after the northern coast." 

Those who went down past Mt. Tacoma, Mt. Hood, 
and Mt. Shasta, and into the Yosemite, said : " If we 
had only seen these places first, and not after the 
Alaska trip." 

All agreed in the summing up of an enthusiast, 
who had travelled the fairest scenes of Europe and 
his own country, and wrote : " Take the best of the 
Hudson and the Rhine, of Lake George and Killarney, 
the Yosemite and all Switzerland, and you can have 
a faint idea of the glorious green archipelago and the 
Alaska coast." 

My first journey on the Idaho in 1883 ended with 
our staying by the ship, and going around outside 
from Puget Sound to the Columbia River, and then 
we were tied up for three days at the government 
wharf at Tongue Point, near Astoria, while three 
hundred tons of Wellington coal was slowly unloaded. 
The smoke of forest fires and the summer fogs hid 
all the magnificent shores and headlands at the 
mouth of the great river, and the hundreds of little 
fishing-boats, with their pointed sails, that set out at 
sunset, soon vanished in the opaline mists. After 
dark a thousand tiny points of flame could be dimly 


seen on the water, as the fishermen lighted the fires 
in their boats to cook their suppers, or set their 
lanterns in the bows as they sailed slowly back to the 
canneries with their loads of salmon. Five days 
after we crossed the Columbia River bar, the ship 
reached Portland, and the journey was over. 

The second cruise, which was blessed with clear 
sunshiny weather from beginning to end, was con- 
cluded at Port Townsend, where for three weeks we 
enjoyed such perfect summer days as are known no- 
where but on Puget Sound. With Mt. Baker on one 
side as a snowy sentinel, and the broken range of the 
Olympic Mountains a violet wall against the western 
sky, it needed only the foreground of water and the 
immaculate silver cone of Mt. Tacoma rising over 
level woodlands, to make the view from Port Town- 
send's heights the finest on Puget Sound. When a 
great full moon hung in the purple sky of night, 
miles of the waters of the bay were pure, rippling 
silver ; and, like a vision in the southern sky, glistened 
a faint, ethereal image, the peak of Mt. Tacoma, sixty 
miles away. 

Appreciating all that was overhead and around us, 
we found a wonderland under foot one morning by 
rowing and poling a small boat far in under the 
wharf, at the low tide. The water having receded 
thirteen feet, the piles for that distance were covered 
with the strangest and most fanciful marine growths. 
Star fish, pink, yellow, white, and purple, clung to the 
piles, many of them with eighteen and twenty-one 
feelers radiating from their thick fleshy bodies, that 
were twelve inches and more in diameter. There 
were slender, skeleton-like little starfish of the 


brightest carmine, and bunches of snow-white and 
pale yellow anemones {actinia) that looked like large 
cauHflower blossoms when opened fully under the 
water. Long brown pipes, growing in clusters on 
the piles, hung out crimson petals and ragged stream- 
ers until it seemed as though thousands of carnation 
pinks had been swept in among the piles. The 
serpida^ that lives in this pipe-stem house, is valued 
for fish bait, and the voyage under the wharf was 
not wholly for studies in zoology. Huge jelly-fish 
floated by, opening and shutting their umbrella-like 
disks of pink and yellow, as if some wind were blow- 
ing rudely the petals of these wonderful blossoms 
of the sea. Shells of the " Spanish dollar" lay on 
the sands at the bottom, and at the water line Uttle 
jelly-fish could be seen shimmering like disks of ice 
in the clear light of the early summer morning. A 
scientist would have been wild at sight of that natural 
aquarium, and to any one it would appear as a part of 
wonderland, a beautifully decorated hall for mermaids' 
revels, and a model for a transformation fairy scene in 
some spectacular drama. The woods and drives, the 
scenes and shores about Port Townsend, excite the 
admiration of every visitor, and when the aquarium 
under the wharf is regularly added to its list of 
attractions, that charming town will have done its 
whole duty to the travelling public. 




I HAVE never been to the Seal Islands myself, 
and have no desire to cross the twenty-six hun- 
dred miles of rough and foggy seas that lie between 
San Francisco and the Pribyloff Islands, in Bering 
Sea. Considering that there are so many good peo- 
ple who think that the Seal Islands constitute 
Alaska, or that all Alaska is one Seal Island, it has 
been urged that I must include something about the 
seal fisheries if I mention Alaska at all. In defer- 
ence to the prejudice which exists against having 
people write of the regions they have never visited, 
all apologies are offered for this reprint of a rambUng 
letter about the Seal Islands and sealskins, and con- 
taining a few facts for which I am indebted to 
members of the Alaska Commercial Company of 
San Francisco, and others who have been to the 
islands and are interested in the fur trade. 

For all that has been written concerning the Seal 
Islands, many very intelligent people have the vaguest 
ideas of their position, size, and condition, and few 
women who own sealskin garments even know that 
the scientist's name for the animal that first wears 
that fine pelt is Callorhinus ursinus, or are acquainted 


with any of the other remarkable facts and statis- 
tics concerning the sealskin of commerce. Such an 
absurd misstatement as the following lately appeared 
in a journal published at the national capital in an 
article entitled "Our Northern Land," and worse 
errors are frequently made : — 

*' The seal fisheries are situated near Sitka, and on 
the first of July (1884) a railway will be begun be- 
tween the two points." 

When we first started for Alaska we expected to 
find Sitka the centre of information about everything 
in the rest of the Territory, but at that ancient capi- 
tal less was known about the seal fisheries than at 
San Francisco. The Seal Islands, discovered by the 
skipper Gerassim Pribyloff in 1788, lie to the north 
and west of the first of the Aleutian chain of islands. 
St. Paul, the largest of these four little rocky islets in 
Bering Sea, is fourteen hundred and ninety-one 
miles west of Sitka, and between two and three 
hundred miles from the nearest mainland. All 
communication with these islands is by way of San 
Francisco, and the company leasing them permit none 
but government vessels, outside of their own fleet, to 
touch at St. Paul and St. George. The Alaska Com- 
mercial Company's vessels make four trips a year, 
their steamers going in ten days generally, but the 
Jeaiinette, when starting on its Arctic expedition, 
fell behind all competitors in a slow race by taking 
twenty-five days to steam from San Francisco to St. 

At the time of the Alaska purchase, in 1867, the 
most ardent supporters of the measure laid no stress 
upon the value of these Seal Islands, and Senator 


Sumner made no reference to them in his great 
speech which virtually decided the destiny of Alaska, 
and made it a possession of the United States. 
Hayward Hutchinson was one of the first of our 
countrymen to engage in the fur trade after the trans- 
fer, and, with a company of San Francisco capitalists, 
bought the buildings and goodwill of the old Russian- 
American Fur Company. He went from Sitka across 
to the Pribyloff Islands in 1868, and there encountered 
Captain Morgan, of New London, Conn,, who, like 
himself, had gone up to look over the possibilities of 
the new Territory in the interests of. home capitalists. 
They joined forces, and, returning to San Francisco, 
had long and quiet consultations with their partners. 
Through their efforts, Congress passed a law in 1869, 
declaring the Seal Islands a government reservation, 
and prohibiting any one from killing fur seals, except 
under certain restrictions. On the first of July, 
1870, the islands of St. Paul and St. George were leased 
for a term of twenty years to the Alaska Commercial 
Company of San Francisco. The lease was delivered 
August 31, 1870, and is signed on behalf of the 
company by its president, John F. Miller, previous 
to that time collector of the port of San Francisco, 
and, since his retirement from the presidency of the 
company, a United States senator from California. 
Beginning with the first day of May, 1870, they had 
sole right to the seal fisheries. The annual rent of 
the islands was fixed at $55,000, the payment to be 
secured by the deposit of United States bonds to 
that amount. They were also required to pay a tax 
of two dollars sixty-two and one-half cents upon 
each of the one hundred thousand skins of the fur 


seal permitted to be taken each year. Fifty-five 
cents was to be paid for each gallon of seal oil ob- 
tained, and the company was to furnish the inhabi- 
tants of the islands with a certain amount of food 
and fuel, to maintain schools for the children, and to 
prevent the use of fire-arms on or near the sealing- 
grounds. A bond of 35cxd,cxdo was required of them, 
and the original firms of Hutchinson, Kohl, & Co., 
of San Francisco, and WilHams, Havens, & Co., of 
New London, were merged into this Alaska Commer- 
cial Company. 

Although 269,400 sealskins are said to have been 
exported from the islands from 1868 to 1869, it is 
claimed that the company had up-hill work for three 
years in getting themselves established and introduc- 
ing their goods to the market. Since that time they 
have ridden on fortune's topmost wave, and been the 
envy of all the short-sighted rivals who might have 
done the same thing had they been shrewd enough. 
None of the original members have left the company, 
save by death, and, it being a close corporation, they 
keep their financial statements, their books, their 
profits, and affairs to themselves ; and the outer world, 
compelled to guess at things, puts a fabulous estimate 
upon the sum annually di\ided among the stock- 
holders. The officers of the company only smile 
with annoyance, and shrug their shoulders, if one re- 
peats to them the common gossip of San Francisco, 
about each of the twelve shares of the stock paying 
an annual dividend of $90,000, and they laugh aloud 
if one appeals to them for the confirmation of it. 
There will be a great scramble and competition 
among rival traders in 1890, when the present lease 


of the islands terminates, and by the bids and state- 
ments made then, more light may be cast upon the 
value of the franchise, unless fickle woman puts seal- 
skin out of fashion by that time, and the tanners, 
instead of the furriers, apply for the lease. 

By a contract with the Russian government, dating 
some years later, this same Alaska Commercial Com- 
pany, in the name of two of its members, has a mono- 
poly of the fur trade on Bering and Copper Islands, 
and at points on the Kamschatka coast. By the terms 
of this contract one of the members had to be a Rus- 
sian, and the ships engaged in this trade on the Asiatic 
side have to carry the Russian flag. Out of the com- 
pany's fleet of a dozen vessels, two steamers fly the 
Muscovite colors, and, on their regular trips up, carry 
large cargoes of flour and provisions to Petropaulov- 
ski, as well as to their own stations. 

Besides the Seal Islands, the Alaska Commercial 
Company has thirty-five other trading posts in the 
Territory, and its agents are established along the 
Yukon, and at many points in the interior. The 
trade in seal skins from the Pribyloff Islands amounts 
to about one half of the general business transacted 
by this corporation. At their offices on Sansome 
Street, in San Francisco, the company has a museum, 
crowded with specimens and curios. Seal life is repre- 
sented at all ages, and all the birds and fishes and min- 
erals of the country are shown. There are mummies 
and petrifactions, reindeer horns, canoes, albino otter 
skins, stone-age instruments, costumes and household 
utensils of the natives, and needles, books, pipes, toys, 
and oddities carved out of bone and ivory, and deco- 
rated in black outlines with sketches of men and ani- 


mals in profile. A ponderous old silver watch is 
supposed to have belonged to some one of the early 
Russian governors, and there is a curious bronze 
cannon, with an inscription in ancient Slavonic letter- 
ing that no one has yet read. The company has been 
very generous in giving specimens and collections to 
different museums and societies, and its agents are 
instructed to gathar such things and send them to the 
company's headquarters. In an upper room, where 
there were sixty thousand fox skins, hanging tail 
downwards from the rafters, thousands of mink and 
marten skins, and piles of bear, beaver, lynx, and deer 
skins, we were shown the skeleton of the extinct sea- 
cow. The exact number of bones in the sea-cow's 
body has been a matter of contention and uncertainty 
to scientists, and there was once a wordy war over it. 
Prof. Elliott, who made a long and careful study of 
seal life for the Smithsonian Institution, and whose 
monograph on that subject has been included in the 
census reports of 1880, was a leading combatant in 
the battle over the sea-cow's bones. This fossil skele- 
ton, sent down by one of the company's agents, was 
presented to the California Academy of Sciences, and 
the palaeontologists' war is over. Captain Niebaum, 
one of the vice-presidents of the company, is a great 
authority in matters pertaining to Arctic and polar 
navigation, and he was consulted about the details of 
the cruise by Captain De Long of the /ean/tette expe- 
dition, and the Alaska company freely supplied that 
ship with provisions, clothing, dogs, and other neces- 
saries when it reached St. Michael's Island. For his 
own use. Captain Niebaum has had made a large map 
of the polar regions, which is the most complete and 


unique chart in the country. On it are traced the 
courses of all the exploring ships, and the dates of 
their reaching important positions, and the artist, 
who worked at this circumpolar chart for more than 
one hundred days, is obliged, for a certain number of 
years, to add to it each discovery or incident of explo- 
ration in the arctic world. 

The company's ships usually stop at Unalashka 
Island on their way to St. Paul, and that chief trad- 
ing post of the old Russian-American company has 
become an even more important place under the new 
regime. Unalashka is one of the largest of the 
seventy Aleutian islands that stretch out in line to- 
wards Japan, and on it was made the earliest Russian 
settlement on the northwest coast. All of the Aleu- 
tian islands are volcanic, and occasionally another 
peak thrusts its head up out of the water, flames and 
cinders come from the mountain tops, and earthquakes 
and tidal waves create disturbances in honor of a new 
island added to the chain. The climate is rather mild, 
and the temperature varies little from the average at 
Sitka. There is almost constant fog and rain during 
the summer months, and the islands, though treeless, 
are covered with luxuriant grasses. Cattle were 
successfully kept by the Russians, and lately there 
have been several plans laid for raising cattle and 
sheep on these grassy islands on a large scale ; Lieut. 
Schwatka, the hero of Arctic and Yukon adventures, 
being a promoter of one of these schemes. At this 
time, instead of cattle ranches, there are fox ranches 
on several of the Aleutian Islands ; and even from 
far-away Attn, the most western point in the United 
States, a shipment of two hundred or more blue-fox 


skins is regularly made each year, and care taken to 
protect and increase the numbers of the foxes. Sea 
otters are hunted all along the Aleutian shores ; and 
in the group of Shumagin Islands, northeast of 
Unalashka, the cod fisheries have become an impor- 
tant industry. A small fleet of schooners from San 
Francisco make one or two trips every year to the 
headquarters on Popoff Island, where from 500,000 
to 600,000 fish are dried and salted each season. 
The Alaska Commercial Company has also a trading 
station and a salmon cannery on Kadiak Island, be- 
yond the Shumagins, and the sea otter is also hunted 
around Kadiak, by native hunters in their tight skin 
canoes or bidarkas. Two men from Kadiak acquired 
a certain fame in 1884 by journeying from that place 
to San Francisco in one of these canoes, nineteen 
feet long. They were Danes, — Peter Miiller and Nils 
Petersen by name, — and, following the general line of 
the shore, they made the sixteen hundred miles to 
Victoria in one hundred and five days. It is consid- 
ered quite a feat in these times, but, a century ago, 
the natives thought nothing of such a journey. 

Although Unalashka has a custom house and is a 
port of delivery, the collector at Sitka only hears from 
his Unalashka deputy by way of San Francisco, and a 
prisoner arrested at Unalashka has to be taken first 
to San Francisco in order to reach the authorities at 
the capital of the Territory. The culprit travels three 
thousand nine hundred and ten miles to reach the 
Sitka jail, while the distance straight across is but 
twelve hundred and seventy-eight miles. Unalashka 
is a headquarters for the whaling fleet of the North 
Pacific, which now numbers thirty-eight vessels. The 



whalers call there for mail, ^ water, and supplies, and 
stop on their way up each season to learn how the ice 
is beyond Bering Straits. They leave word as to 
the condition of the bergs and floes, the positions of 
the remaining ships and their catches, as they come 
down each fall. 

At the Pribyloff Islands, two hundred and twenty 
and two hundred and seventy miles further north, 
neither whalers nor other trading ships are ever seen. 
The heaviest fogs rest upon them in summer, and ice 
floes beleaguer them in winter, stilling the heavy 
roar of the surf, and putting one and two miles of 
broken ice between the shores and the open water. 
The shallow waters, and the upward current through 
Bering Straits, prevent icebergs from floating down 
from the Arctic Ocean, and that element of danger 
does not threaten the navigators in those foggy 
waters. During the breeding season each summer, 
United States officers are stationed on the two smaller 
islands. Copper and Walrus, to prevent any seal 
pirates from unlawfully killing the animals, and on 
St. Paul and St. George islands special treasury 
and revenue agents watch closely that none of the 
regulations are disregarded. 

The three hundred and ninety-eight natives who 
inhabit the two islands are mostly half breeds of the 
Aleut tribe. They live now after a certain civilized 
way, in neat and comfortable houses provided for 
them by the company, but it was at first difficult to 
get them to leave their filthy underground hovels. 
They are nearly all members of the Greek Church, 
and, with the help of the company, support a chapel 
on either island. Bishop Nestor used to include these 


little parishes on his annual visits, and celebrated the 
mass in his richest vestments before their altars. To 
prevent the evils of intemperance, the company is 
careful that no intoxicants are sent up with their 
stores, and sugar and molasses are sold to the natives, 
only in the smallest quantities, for fear that they 
might distil the same hoochinoo as the Thlinkets. 
Failing these luxuries, the poor Aleut satisfies his 
sweet tooth with other substitutes. The greatest 
quantities of condensed milk are sold them each year, 
the seal hunters drinking a can of milk at a time, or 
spreading it thickly on their daily bread. The large 
sums they receive during the few weeks of the sealing 
season enable them to live in idleness and plenty for 
the rest of the year. They are inveterate gamblers, 
as well as feasters and idlers, and after the long hiber- 
nation and pleasuring of the winter they are anxious 
and ready for the summer's work. 

It has not been learned yet where Callorhinus 
ursinus stays for the rest of the year ; but early in June 
the desolate shores of the Pribyloff Islands become 
vocal with the hoarse voices of the seal, which have 
made this their gathering-place during the breeding 
season for unnumbered years. It is estimated that 
three million seals congregate on the rookeries of 
St. Paul Island each summer, and those who have 
looked down upon these rookeries at the height of 
the season report it as a most astounding spectacle. 
Acres of the rocky shore are alive with seals of all 
sizes and kinds, and the very ground seems to be 
writhing and squirming as the ungainly creatures drag 
themselves over the rocks, or pause to fan themselves 
with their flippers. Great battles are waged between 



the heads of seal families from June to August, and 
the harsh chorus of their voices is heard at sea 
above the roar of the breakers, and is the sailors* 
guide in making the islands during the heavy summer 
fogs. Only the male seals from two to four years of 
age are killed, and the skins of the three-year-olds 
have the finest and closest fur. The method of kill- 
ing them has nothing heroic or huntsmanlike about 
it. The natives start out before dawn, and, running 
down the shore, get between the sleeping seals and 
the water, and then drive them, as they would so many 
sheep, to the killing-ground, a half mile inland. 
They drive them slowly, giving them frequent rests 
for cooling, and gradually turning aside and leaving 
behind all seals that are not up to the requisite age 
and condition. When the poor, tame things have 
reached their death-ground, the natives go round with 
heavy clubs and kill them with one blow on the head. 
The skins are quickly stripped from them and taken 
to the salting-house, where they are covered with salt 
and laid in great piles. The natives receive forty 
cents for each skin taken in this way. After a few 
weeks in the salting-house the company's steamer 
brings them down to San Francisco. The special 
agent of the United States Treasury at the islands 
counts the skins before they are shipped, and, 
accompanying them to San Francisco, they are again 
counted in his presence by the inspectors at that port. 
The tax of $2.62}^ is paid on each skin, the dirty 
yellow pelts treated to more salt, rolled into bundles, 
and packed in tight casks ready to ship to London. 
Of these one hundred thousand sealskins, eighty 
thousand come from the island of St. Paul, which is 


sixteen miles long and from three to six miles wide, 
and twenty thousand skins come from the island of 
St. George, which is not even as large. On one trip 
in 1883, the steamer St. Paid brought down sixty- 
three thousand sealskins, valued at ;^630,ooo, and 
the tax paid to the government on them amounted to 

When Calloi'Jnmis iirsinus has thus delivered up 
his skin, and been salted and packed into barrels, he 
is sent on by railroad and steamship to London, 
where the Alaska Commercial Company controls the 
sealskin market of the world. Over seven firms in 
London are now engaged in the dyeing and dressing 
of sealskins, although there is a fiction still passed 
around about the secret of dyeing being held by one 
family of London furriers. Smiths, Oppenheimers, 
and other great firms buy the sealskins, dress them, 
pluck them, and give them the deep velvety brown 
and black dye that constitutes them such articles of 
luxury and fashion. A firm of Paris furriers has 
been setting the fashion of dyes for several years, 
and in accordance with their behests the color has 
been made darker and darker, until it is now nearly 
black. The old London furriers shake their heads 
at this change, as the strong nut gall and acids used 
to obtain this rich dark tone are liable to eat and 
destroy the leather. Cheap labor is the only answer 
to the question why this dressing and dyeing is done 
in Europe instead of America. The long, coarse 
hairs that overlay the fine fur have all to be removed 
by hand, and is best accomplished by that " pauper 
labor" at which emigrated demagogues rail. In New 
York there is one furrier who attempts to rival the 


London and Paris houses, but the results have so far 
proved his inability to outdo them in price and 
quality of work. If well dyed, a sealskin will never 
fade, spot with rain, nor mat together with dust, and 
it is even told that one London dyer put one of his 
sealskins in a tub and washed it with soap as a proof 
that they would lose neither lustre nor color by such 
treatment. It takes many handlings to turn the 
coarse long hair of these skins into a short, velvety, 
and glossy fur. Hot sand baths and chemicals are 
used to get the grease and oil out of the skins, and 
if this process is not thoroughly done at the time, 
the dull and matted furs have to be put through hot 
sand again after they have been made up into garments 
and worn. Six and more coats of dye are necessary, 
and it is applied to the surface only, so as to leave the 
roots of the fine hairs a golden yellow. Like the 
manufacture of gunpowder and so many other things, 
the art of dyeing sealskin originated with the Chinese, 
to whom the Russians used to sell nearly all of their 
furs. It is most probable that it was their intention 
to imitate the costly, purplish brown fur of the sea 
otter, which in Russia, as well as China, was formerly 
a badge of rank, and is still the most expensive fur 
sold, single skins being shown at the San Francisco 
warehouse, worth ^loo and ^300. The otter skins 
are brought down dried, and require only to be 
dressed and plucked of the coarser hairs before 
being ready to use. 

After being dressed and dyed, the sealskins pay a 
duty of 20 per cent when they return to this country, 
and the cost of sealskin garments may be won- 
dered at when one counts the items. The raw and 


unsightly skins in their salt are worth from ;^io to 
;^i8 each, according to quality. There is to be added 
to this a tax of $2.62}^ each to the government ; a 
charge of $6 or $S for the dyeing and dressing ; a duty 
of 20 per cent when they are returned to this country ; 
and a fair charge for all the transportation the skins 
undergo, and the insurance on them during this 
time. This gives a dressed sealskin ready for the 
furrier to make up into garments, at an average value 
of from ^15 to ^30. It takes three skins to make a 
sacque of medium size, and the furriers always charge 
well for the making, as the greatest skill and nicety 
are required in sewing the skins. That furriers reap 
a profit of one hundred per cent on each sealskin gar- 
ment is quite evident. 

By the wise action of the government in reserving 
the seal islands and leasing them to a responsible 
company, the seal fisheries have become more and 
more valuable. The seals are increasing in number 
yearly, and more than the regular 100,000 could be 
killed each season without diminishing them to any 
extent, although to regulate prices the company has 
often taken less than the maximum number allowed in 
a season. Alaska seal is now the only seal in the 
market, since the rookeries of the Antarctic Sea 
have been so persistently hunted that the seals have 
become extinct. The Shetland seals, found on the 
islands of that name off Cape Horn, for a long time 
furnished the finest skins in the market, and command- 
ed almost double the price of the Alaska sealskins. 
Not being protected by any government, the islands 
were free hunting grounds for every ship that went 
"round the Horn," and no skipper could resist a 


venture at such costly pelts. From the Island of 
South Georgia and the Island of Desolation 2,400,000 
sealskins were taken annually from the time of their 
discovery, in 1771, until within the last twenty years, 
when the seals gradually became extinct. A San 
Francisco furrier sent a schooner down to those Ant- 
arctic islands a few years ago, and sixty skins were 
all that were obtained, and in another season only 
three skins were taken. All along the northwest 
coast, from Vancouver's Island to Unalashka, where 
the authority and monopoly of the Alaska Commercial 
Company begins, a general warfare is waged on the 
fur seal by independent hunters and traders ; but their 
catch has seemingly no effect upon the millions of 
seal that annually gather on the Pribyloff shores, and 
the pelt grows coarser and poorer the further south 
of those islands it is obtained. The seal's skin is in 
its best condition during the summer months, when 
the animals frequent the Pribyloff rookeries, and by 
wise protection the government has an inexhaustible 
source of wealth in these two small islands, that have 
already paid into the Treasury, in rent and taxes, 
nearly the whole amount that was paid to Russia for 
the immense territory of Alaska. From the date of 
the lease in 1870 up to March, 1884, the Alaska Com- 
mercial Company has paid into the United States 
Treasury ^4,662,026. Having invested ^7,200,000 in 
the purchase of the Territory, comprising an area of 
580,107 square miles, the government has derived an 
annual income ranging from ^262,500 to ;^3 17,000 
from two of the smallest islands off its coast. 




THE following is the official text of the ** Treaty 
concerning the cession of the Russian Posses- 
sions in North America by His Majesty the Emperor 
of all the Russias to the United States of America ; 
concluded March 30, 1867; ratified by the United 
States May 28, 1867; exchanged June 20, 1867; 
proclaimed by the United States June 20, 1867 : " — 

By the President of the United States of America, 


Whereas a treaty between the United States of 
America and his Majesty the Emperor of all the 
Russias was concluded and signed by their respective 
plenipotentiaries at the city of Washington on the 
thirtieth day of March last, which treaty, being in 
the English and French languages, is, word for word, 
as follows : — 

The United States of America and His Majesty 
the Emperor of all the Russias, being desirous of 
strengthening, if possible, the good understanding 
which exists between them, have, for that purpose, 
appointed as their Plenipotentiaries : the President 


of the United States, William H. Seward, Secretary 
of State; and His Majesty the Emperor of all the 
Russias, the Privy Counsellor Edward de Stoeckl, 
his Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary to the United States. 

And the said Plenipotentiaries, having exchanged 
their full powers, which were found to be in due form, 
have agreed upon and signed the following articles : — 


His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias agrees 
to cede to the United States, by this convention, 
immediately upon the exchange of the ratifications 
thereof, all the territory and dominion now possessed 
by his said Majesty on the continent of America and 
in the adjacent islands, the same being contained 
within the geographical limits herein set forth, to wit : 
The eastern limit is the line of demarcation between 
the Russian and the British possessions in North 
America, as established by the convention between 
Russia and Great Britain, of February 28-16, 1825, 
and described in Articles HI and IV of said conven- 
tion, in the following terms : 

" Commencing from the southernmost point of the 
island called Prince of Wales Island, which point 
lies in the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes north 
latitude, and between the 131st and the 133d degree 
of west longitude (meridian of Greenwich), the said 
line shall ascend to the north along the channel called 
Portland channel, as far as the point of the continent 
where it strikes the 56th degree of north latitude ; 
from this last-mentioned point, the line of demarca- 
tion shall follow the summit of the mountains situated 


parallel to the coast as far as the point of inter- 
section of the 141st degree of west longitude (of 
the same meridian) ; and finally, from the said point 
of intersection, the said meridian line of the 141st 
degree, in its prolongation as far as the Frozen 

"IV. With reference to the line of demarcation 
laid down in the preceding article, it is under- 
stood — 

" 1st. That the island called Prince of Wales 
Island shall belong wholly to Russia " (now, by this 
cession, to the United States). 

" 2d. That whenever the summit of the mountains 
which extend in a direction parallel to the coast from 
the 56th degree of north latitude to the point of in- 
tersection of the 141st degree of west longitude shall 
prove to be at the distance of more than ten marine 
leagues from the ocean, the limit between the British 
possessions and the line of coast which is to belong 
to Russia as above mentioned (that is to say, the limit 
to the possessions ceded by this convention) shall be 
formed by a line parallel to the winding of the coast, 
and which shall never exceed the distance of ten ma- 
rine leagues therefrom." 

The western limit within which the territories and 
dominion conveyed are contained, passes through a 
point in Behring's straits on the parallel of sixty-five 
degrees thirty minutes north latitude, at its intersec- 
tion by the meridian which passes midway between 
the islands of Krusenstern, or Ignalook, and the 
island of Ratmanoff, or Noonarbook, and proceeds 
due north, without limitation, into the same Frozen 
ocean. The same western limit, beginning at the 


same initial point, proceeds thence in a course nearly 
southwest, through Behring's straits and Behring's 
sea, so as to pass midway between the northwest 
point of the -island of St. Lawrence and the southeast 
point of Cape Choukotski, to the meridian of one 
hundred and seventy-two west longitude ; thence, 
from the intersection of that meridian, in a south- 
westerly direction, so as to pass midway between 
the island of Attou and the Copper island of the 
Kormandorski couplet or group in the North Pacific 
ocean, to the meridian of one hundred and ninety- 
three degrees west longitude, so as to include in the 
territory conveyed the whole of the Aleutian islands 
east of that meridian. 


In the cession of territory and dominion made by 
the preceding article are included the right of pro- 
perty in all public lots and squares, vacant lands, and 
all public buildings, fortifications, barracks, and other 
edifices which are not private individual property. 
It is, however, understood and agreed, that the 
churches which have been built in the ceded terri- 
tory by the Russian government shall remain the 
property of such members of the Greek Oriental 
Church resident in the territory, as may choose to 
worship therein. Any government archives, papers, 
and documents relative to the territory and dominion 
aforesaid, which may be now existing there, will be 
left in the possession of the agent of the United 
States ; but an authenticated copy of such of them 
as may be required will be, at all times, given by 
the United States to the Russian government, or 


to such Russian officers or subjects as they may 
apply for. 


The inhabitants of the ceded territory, according 
to their choice, reserving their natural allegiance, 
may return to Russia within three years ; but if they 
should prefer to remain in the ceded territory, they, 
with the exception of uncivilized native tribes, shall 
be admitted to the enjoyment of all the rights, 
advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United 
States, and shall be maintained and protected in the 
free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion. 
The uncivilized tribes will be subject to such laws 
and regulations as the United States may, from time 
to time, adopt in regard to aboriginal tribes of that 


His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias shall 
appoint, with convenient despatch, an agent or agents 
for the purpose of formally delivering to a similar 
agent or agents appointed on behalf of the United 
States, the territory, dominion, property, dependen- 
cies and appurtenances which are ceded as above, 
and for doing any other act which may be necessary 
in regard thereto. But the cession, with the right of 
immediate possession, is nevertheless to be deemed 
complete and absolute on the exchange of ratifica- 
tions, without waiting for such formal delivery. 


Immediately after the exchange of the ratifications 
of this convention, any fortifications or military posts 
which may be in the ceded territory shall be deli- 


vered to the agent of the United States, and any 
Russian troops which may be in the territory shall be 
withdrawn as soon as may be reasonably and conve- 
niently practicable. 


In consideration of the cession aforesaid, the 
United States agree to pay at the treasury in Wash- 
ington, within ten months after the exchange of the 
ratifications of this convention, to the diplomatic 
representative or other agent of his Majesty the 
Emperor of all the Russias, duly . authorized to re- 
ceive the same, seven million two hundred thousand 
dollars in gold. The cession of territory and domi- 
nion herein made is hereby declared to be free and 
unincumbered by any reservations, privileges, fran- 
chises, grants, or possessions, by any associated com- 
panies, whether corporate or incorporate, Russian or 
any other, or by any parties, except merely private 
individual property holders ; and the cession hereby 
made conveys all the rights, franchises, and privi- 
leges now belonging to Russia in the said territory 
or dominion, and appurtenances thereto. 


When this convention shall have been duly ratified 
by the President of the United States, by and witlj 
the advice and consent of the Senate, on the one 
part, and on the other by his Majesty the Emperor 
of all the Russias, the ratifications shall be exchanged 
at Washington within three months from the date 
hereof, or sooner, if possible. 

In faith whereof, the respective plenipotentiaries 


have signed this convention, and thereto affixed the 
seals of their arms. 

Done at Washington, the thirtieth day of March, 
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred 
and sixty-seven. 

[l. s.] William H. Seward. 

[l. s.] Edouard de Stoeckl. 

And whereas the said Treaty has been duly ratified 
on both parts, and the respective ratifications of the 
same were exchanged at Washington on this twen- 
tieth day of June, by William H. Seward, Secretary 
of State of the United States, and the Privy Coun- 
sellor Edward de Stoeckl, the Envoy Extraordinary 
of His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, on 
the part of their respective governments, — 

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew 
Johnson, President of the United States of America, 
have caused the said Treaty to be made public, to 
the end that the same and every clause and article 
thereof may be observed and fulfilled with good faith 
by the United States and the citizens thereof. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, 
and caused the seal of the United States to be 

Done at the city of Washington, this twentieth 
day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
eight hundred and sixty-seven, and of the Inde- 
pendence of the United States the 

L ■ ■-' ninety-first. 

Andrew Johnson. 

By the President : 

William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 



From the Revised Statutes of the United States 
for the Second Session of the Fortieth Congress is 
taken the following : — 

An Act making an Appropriation of Money to carry into Ef- 
fect the Treaty with Russia of March thirtieth, eighteen 
hundred arid sixty-seven. 

Whereas the President of the United States, on 
the thirtieth of March, eighteen hundred and sixty- 
seven, entered into a treaty with the Emperor of 
Russia, and the Senate thereafter gave its advice and 
consent to said treaty, by the terms of which it was 
stipulated that, in consideration of the cession by the 
Emperor of Russia to the United States of certain 
territory therein described, the United States should 
pay to the Emperor of Russia the sum of seven 
million two hundred thousand dollars in coin ; and 
whereas it was further stipulated in said treaty that 
the United States shall accept of such cession, and 
that certain inhabitants of said territory shall be 
admitted to the enjoyment of all the rights and im- 
munities of citizens of the United States ; and whereas 
said stipulations cannot be carried into full force and 
effect except by legislation to which the consent of 
both houses of Congress is necessary : Therefore, 
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa- 
tives of the United States of Ameinca in Congress as- 
sembled, That there be, and hereby is, appropriated, 
from any money in the treasury not otherwise appro- 
priated, seven million and two hundred thousand 
dollars in coin, to fulfil stipulations contained in the 
sixth article of the treaty with Russia, concluded at 
Washington on the thirtieth day of March, eighteen 
hundred and sixty-seven. 

Approved, July 27, 1868. 


During the First Session of the Forty-eighth Con- 
gress, the following bill, originating in the Senate, 
became a law : 


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Represen- 
tatives of the United States of America in Congress 
assembled^ That the territory ceded to the United 
States by Russia by the treaty of March thirtieth, 
eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, and known as 
Alaska, shall constitute a civil and judicial district, 
the government of which shall be organized and 
administered as hereinafter provided. The temporary 
seat of government of said district is hereby estab- 
lished at Sitka. 

Sec. 2. That there shall be appointed for the said 
district a governor, who shall reside therein during 
his term of office and be charged with the interests 
of the United States Government that may arise 
within said district. To the end aforesaid he shall 
have authority to see that the laws enacted for said 
district are enforced, and to require the faithful dis- 
charge of their duties by the officials appointed to 
administer the same. He may also grant reprieves 
for offences committed against the laws of the district 
or of the United States until the decision of the 
President thereon shall be made known. He shall 
be ex officio commander-in-chief of the militia of said 
district, and shall have power to call out the same 
when necessary to the due execution of the laws and 
to preserve the peace, and to cause all able-bodied 
citizens of the United States in said district to enroll 


and serve as such when the public exigency demands ; 
and he shall perform generally in and over said district 
such acts as pertain to the office of governor of a 
territory, so far as the same may be made or become 
applicable thereto. He shall make an annual report, 
on the first day of October in each year, to the Presi- 
dent of the United States, of his official acts and 
doings, and of the condition of said district, with 
reference to its resources, industries, population, and 
the administration of the civil government thereof. 
And the President of the United States shall have 
power to review and to confirm or annul any re- 
prieves granted or other acts done by him. 

Sec. 3. That there shall be, and hereby is, estab- 
lished a district court for said district, with the civil 
and criminal jurisdiction of district courts of the 
United States exercising the jurisdiction of circuit 
courts, and such other jurisdiction, not inconsistent 
with this act, as may be established by law ; and a 
district judge shall be appointed for said district, who 
shall during his term of office reside therein and hold 
at least two terms of said court therein in each year, 
one at Sitka, beginning on the first Monday in May, 
and the other at Wrangel, beginning on the first 
Monday in November. He is also authorized and 
directed to hold such special sessions as may be ne- 
cessary for the dispatch of the business of said court, 
at such times and places in said district as he may 
deem expedient, and may adjourn such special session 
to any other time previous to a regular session. He 
shall have authority to employ interpreters, and to 
make allowances for the necessary expenses of his 


Sec. 4. That a clerk shall be appointed for said 
court, who shall be ex officio secretary and treasurer 
of said district, a district attorney, and a marshal, 
all of whom shall during their terms of office reside 
therein. The clerk shall record and preserve copies 
of all the laws, proceedings, and official acts applicable 
to said district. He shall also receive all moneys 
collected from fines, forfeitures, or in any other man- 
ner except from violations of the custom laws, and 
shall apply the same to the incidental expenses of the 
said district court and the allowances thereof as di- 
rected by the judge of said court, and shall account for 
the same in detail, and for any balances on account 
thereof, quarterly, to and under the direction of the 
Secretary of the Treasury. He shall be ex officio 
recorder of deeds and mortgages and certificates of 
location of mining claims and other contracts relating 
to real estate and register of wills for said district, 
and shall establish secure offices in the towns of Sitka 
and Wrangel, in said district, for the safekeeping of 
all his official records, and of records concerning the 
reformation and establishment of the present status 
of titles to lands, as hereinafter directed : Provided^ 
That the district court hereby created may direct, if 
it shall deem it expedient, the establishment of sepa- 
rate offices at the settlements of Wrangel, Oonalashka, 
and Juneau City, respectively, for the recording of 
such instruments as may pertain to the several na- 
tural divisions of said district most convenient to said 
settlements, the limits of which shall, in the event of 
such direction, be defined by said court ; and said 
offices shall be in charge of the commissioners respec- 
tively as hereinafter provided. 



Sec. 5. That there shall be appointed by the Presi- 
dent four commissioners in and for the said district, 
who shall have the jurisdiction and powers of com- 
missioners of the United States circuit courts in any 
part of said district, but who shall reside, one at 
Sitka, one at Wrangel, one at Oonalashka, and one at 
Juneau City. Such commissioners shall exercise all 
the duties and powers, civil and criminal, now con- 
ferred on justices of the peace under the general laws 
of the State of Oregon, so far as the same may be 
applicable in said district, and may not be in conflict 
with this act or the laws of the United States. They 
shall also have jurisdiction, subject to the supervision 
of the district judge, in all testamentary and probate 
matters, and for this purpose their courts shall be 
opened at stated terms and be courts of record, and 
be provided with a seal for the authentication of their 
official acts. They shall also have power to grant 
writs of habeas corpus for the purpose of inquiring 
into the cause of restraint of liberty, which writs 
shall be made returnable before the said district judge 
for said district ; and like proceedings shall be had 
thereon as if the same had been granted by said judge 
under the general laws of the United States in such 
cases. Said commissioners shall also have the powers 
of notaries public, and shall keep a record of all deeds 
and other instruments of writing acknowledged before 
them and relating to the title to or transfer of pro- 
perty within said district, which record shall be 
subject to public inspection. Said commissioners 
shall also keep a record of all fines and forfeitures 
received by them, and shall pay over the same quar- 
terly to the clerk of said district court. The governor 


appointed under the provisions of this act shall, from 
time to time, inquire into the operations of the Alaska 
Seal and Fur Company, and shall annually report to 
Congress the result of such inquiries and any and all 
violations by said company of the agreement existing 
between the United States and said company. 

Sec. 6. That the marshal for said district shall 
have the general authority and powers of the United 
States marshals of the States and Territories. He 
shall be the executive officer of said court, and 
charged with the execution of all process of said court 
and with the transportation and custody of prisoners, 
and he shall be ex officio keeper of the jail or peni- 
tentiary of said district. He shall appoint four 
deputies, who shall reside severally at the towns of 
Sitka, Wrangel, Oonalashka, and Juneau City, and 
they shall respectively be ex officio constables and 
executive officers of the commissioners' courts herein 
provided, and shall have the powers and discharge the 
duties of United States deputy marshals, and those 
of constables under the laws of the State of Oregon 
now in force. 

Sec. 7. That the general laws of the State of 
Oregon now in force are hereby declared to be the 
law in said district, so far as the same may be appli- 
cable and not in conflict with the provisions of this 
act or the laws of the United States ; and the sentence 
of imprisonment in any criminal case shall be carried 
out by confinement in the jail or penitentiary here- 
inafter provided for. But the said district court shall 
have exclusive jurisdiction in all cases in equity or 
those involving a question of title to land, or mining 
rights, or the constitutionality of a law, and in all 


criminal offences which are capital. In all civil cases, 
at common law, any issue of fact shall be determined 
by a jury, at the instance of either party ; and an 
appeal shall lie in any case, civil or criminal, from the 
judgment of said commissioners to the said district 
court where the amount involved in any civil case is 
two hundred dollars or more, and in any criminal case 
where a fine of more than one hundred dollars or im- 
prisonment is imposed, upon the filing of a sufficient 
appeal bond by the party appealing, to be approved 
by the court or commissioner. Writs of error in cri- 
minal cases shall issue to the said district court from 
the United States circuit court for the district of 
Oregon in the cases provided in chapter one hundred 
and seventy-six of the laws of eighteen hundred and 
seventy-nine; and the jurisdiction thereby conferred 
upon circuit courts is hereby given to the circuit 
court of Oregon. And the final judgments or de- 
crees of said circuit and district court may be reviewed 
by the Supreme Court of the United States as in 
other cases. 

Sec. 8. That the said district of Alaska is hereby 
created a land district, and a United States land-office 
for said district is hereby located at Sitka. The com- 
missioner provided for by this act to reside at Sitka 
shall be ex officio register of said land-office, and the 
clerk provided for by this act shall be ex officio re- 
ceiver of public moneys, and the marshal provided for 
by this act shall be ex officio surveyor-general of said 
district, and the laws of the United States relating to 
mining claims, and the rights incident thereto, shall, 
from and after the passage of this act, be in full force 
and. effect in said district, under the administration 


thereof herein provided for, subject to such regula- 
tions as may be made by the Secretary of the Interior, 
approved by the President : Provided, That the In- 
dians or other persons in said district shall not be 
disturbed in the possession of any lands actually in 
their use or occupation or now claimed by them, but 
the terms under which such persons may acquire title 
to such lands is reserved for future legislation by 
Congress : A?id provided further., That parties who 
have located mines or mineral privileges therein 
under the laws of the United States applicable to the 
public domain, or who have occupied and improved 
or exercised acts of ownership over such claims, shall 
not be disturbed therein, but shall be allowed to per- 
fect their title to such claims by payment as aforesaid : 
And provided ^ilsOy That the land not exceeding six 
hundred and forty acres at any station now occupied 
as missionary stations among the Indian tribes in 
said section, with the improvements thereon erected 
by or for such societies, shall be continued in the 
occupancy of the several religious societies to which 
said missionary stations respectively belong until 
action by Congress. But nothing contained in this 
act shall be construed to put in force in said district 
the general land laws of the United States. 

Sec. 9. That the governor, attorney, judge, mar- 
shal, clerk, and commissioners provided for in this act 
shall be appointed by the President of the United 
States, by and with the advice and consent of the 
Senate, and shall hold their respective offices for the 
term of four years, and until their successors are ap- 
pointed and qualified. They shall severally receive 
the fees of office established by law for the several 


offices the duties of which have been hereby conferred 
upon them, as the same are determined and allowed 
in respect of similar offices under the laws of the 
United States, which fees shall be reported to the 
Attorney General and paid into the Treasury of 
the United States. They shall receive respectively the 
following annual salaries. The governor, the sum of 
three thousand dollars; the attorney, the sum of two 
thousand five hundred dollars ; the marshal, the sum 
of two thousand five hundred dollars ; the judge, the 
sum of three thousand dollars ; and the clerk, the sum 
of two thousand five hundred dollars, payable to them 
quarterly from the Treasury of the United States. 
The district judge, marshal, and district attorney 
shall be paid their actual, necessary expenses when 
travelling in the discharge of their official duties. A 
detailed account shall be rendered of such expenses 
under oath and as to the marshal and district attorney 
such account shall be approved by the judge, and as 
to his expenses by the Attorney General. The com- 
missioners shall receive the usual fees of United 
States commissioners and of justices of the peace for 
Oregon, and such fees for recording instruments as 
are allowed by the laws of Oregon for similar services, 
and in addition a salary of one thousand dollars each. 
The deputy marshals, in addition to the usual fees of 
constables in Oregon, shall receive each a salary of 
seven hundred and fifty dollars, which salaries shall 
also be payable quarterly out of the Treasury of the 
United States. Each of said officials shall, before 
entering on the duties of his office, take and subscribe 
an oath that he will faithfully execute the same, which 
said oath may be taken before the judge of said 


district or any United States district or circuit judge. 
That all officers appointed for said district, before 
entering upon the duties of their offices, shall take 
the oaths required by law, and the laws of the United 
States, not locally inapplicable to said district and 
not inconsistent with the provisions of this act are 
hereby extended thereto ; but there shall be no 
legislative assembly in said district, nor shall any 
delegate be sent to Congress therefrom. And the 
said clerk shall execute a bond, with sufficient sureties, 
in the penalty of ten thousand dollars, for the faith- 
ful performance of his duties, and file the same with 
the Secretary of the Treasury before entering on the 
duties of his office ; and the commissioners shall each 
execute a bond, with sufficient sureties, in the penalty 
of three thousand dollars, for the faithful performance 
of their duties, and file the same with the clerk be- 
fore entering on the duties of their office. 

Sec. 10. That any of the public buildings in said 
district not required for the customs service or military 
purposes shall be used for court-rooms and offices of 
the civil government ; and the Secretary of the 
Treasury is hereby directed to instruct and authorize 
the custodian of said buildings forthwith to make 
such repairs to the jail in the town of Sitka, in said 
district, as will render it suitable for a jail and peni- 
tentiary for the purposes of the civil government 
hereby provided, and to surrender to the marshal the 
custody of said jail and the other public buildings, or 
such parts of said buildings as may be selected for 
court-rooms, offices, and officials. 

Sec. II. That the Attorney-General is directed 
forthwith to compile and cause to be printed, in the 


English language, in pamphlet form, so much of the 
general laws of the United States as is applicable to 
the duties of the governor, attorney, judge, clerk, 
marshals, and commissioners appointed for said 
district, and shall furnish for the use of the officers 
of said Territory so many copies as may be needed 
of the laws of Oregon applicable to said district. 

Sec. 12. That the Secretary of the Interior shall 
select two of the officers to be appointed under this 
act, who, together with the governor, shall constitute 
a commission to examine into and report upon the 
condition of the Indians residing in said Territory, 
what lands, if any, should be reserved for their use, 
what provision shall be made for their education, what 
rights by occupation of settlers should be recognized, 
and all other facts that may be necessary to enable 
Congress to determine what limitations or conditions 
should be imposed when the land laws of the United 
States shall be extended to said district ; and to 
defray the expenses of said commission the sum of 
two thousand dollars is hereby appropriated out of 
any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appro- 

Sec. 13. That the Secretary of the Interior shall 
make needful and proper provision for the education 
of the children of school age in the Territory of 
Alaska, without reference to race, until such time as 
permanent provision shall be made for the same, and 
the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, or so much 
thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated 
for this purpose. 

Sec. 14. That the provisions of chapter three, 
title twenty-three, of the Revised Statutes of the 


United States, relating to the unorganized Territory 
of Alaska, shall remain in full force, except as herein 
specially otherwise provided ; and the importation, 
manufacture, and sale of intoxicating liquors in said 
district except for medicinal, mechanical, and scien- 
tific purposes, is hereby prohibited under the penalties 
which are provided in section nineteen hundred and 
fifty-five of the Revised Statutes for the wrongful 
importation of distilled spirits. And the President 
of the United States shall make such regulations as 
are necessary to carry out the provisions of this 

Approved, May 17, 1884. 


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